Crash Test Format

Crash Test Drama Bundanoon is an initiative of Melting Pot Theatre Bundanoon.

Our home is the beautiful Soldiers' Memorial Hall centrally located in the heart of this lovely Southern Highlands village. We generally plan four performances per year, with a final Gala performance at the end of the year. At this event, the 8 finalist plays who have won through the earlier rounds return as polished, fully rehearsed productions.

Crash Test Drama is a great way in which to introduce theatre to a great many people in an easily digestible format.

At Melting Pot Theatre, we hope that as our actor and writer base builds, we will have the ability to venture further into other forms of theatre and provide opportunities to those with a penchant for theatre in the Southern Highlands.

Crash Test Drama is a wonderful and fun way for both budding and experienced playwrights, directors and actors to be involved in drama performances. No prior experience is required, though experienced theatre practitioners are encouraged to participate and share their experience.

Following a rehearsal period the plays are brought to life, with script in hand to a live audience.

Everyone who attends our performances, or is a participant, pays an entry fee of $10 at the door for the day. Casting commences at 2 pm, followed by rehearsal, prior to being performed in front of an audience at 5 pm.

At the conclusion of the show, complementary wine, cheese and crackers are served while the votes are counted and the judges decide on the winners. Performances are judged by the audience as well as an invited guest judge, with the winners of the judge's vote and the audience vote going through to the Gala final at the end of the year.

History of Crash Test Drama

Pioneered by Harry Paternoster and Bearing Your Arts in Melbourne, Crash Test Drama is a great way of trying out and developing ten minute plays. It’s also a great way for actors and directors to practise their craft, writers to learn more about the art of writing for the stage, plus a wonderful networking opportunity.

The name and concept of Crash Test Drama is well established in Australia. Its popularity as a starting point for those interested in taking their first steps in theatre has underscored its success.

Crash Test Drama was started in Bundanoon in 2012. Each year, Crash Test Drama Bundanoon stages four events, featuring 32 plays.

Crash Test has a competitive component to it, which allows the audience and judges to vote for their favourite plays. In this way the two winning plays from each event progress through to the end of year Gala Final and from where the two winning plays automatically go through to the Sydney season of the Short & Sweet festival.

How Crash Test Drama works

For each event we select 8 ten-minute plays to be performed. These plays will have been selected from submissions received over the previous 3 months, from anyone who has a desire to see their work performed as a piece of living work. Playwrights - please note that all scripts should be delivered for assessment as a pdf.

At 2pm on the day of the event, writers and actors assemble at the Soldiers' Memorial Hall in Bundanoon, when the writer/directors cast their plays from the actors in attendance.

All plays are rehearsed for 2 hours and then performed to an audience as "moved readings" from 5pm. A moved reading is where the actors block (move) the play, making use of simple props, but carry their scripts in hand. Once all eight plays have been performed, the audience and judges vote for their favourite plays.

The audience gets to vote for two plays. While the judges selects Best Play, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Director. Should the judges and audience agree on the best play, the audience second choice will join the judges choice to progress to the Gala Final (subject to the proviso below).

While a playwright may have been selected as the best play by either judge or audience vote, they will be limited to a maximum of two plays progressing to the Gala Final.

In the event that a playwright has won through with two plays and subsequently has a third (or more) plays in a winning position, either by audience or judges vote, the play coming second in the audience vote, shall be deemed as the play to progress.

Notwithstanding, should a play have been nominated as the best play by the judges vote, it will still receive the best play award for that event.


The concept of Crash Test Drama is one where the entry fee paid by everyone participating on the day is returned to the winners as prize money. The awards go to:

Best Play - Guest Judge's Choice
Best Director - Guest Judge's Choice
Best Actress - Guest Judge's Choice
Best Actor - Guest Judge's Choice
Best Play - by Audience Vote


Playwrights are given creative freedom - the only stipulation is that the play must fall within the 10 minute rule.

While there is no official lower limit, please ensure that your story can be told in the time allowed, so the actors can bring the piece fully to life.

Please endeavour to write as few characters as possible. We only have a limited number of volunteer actors to perform your play!

Please be conscious of the minimalist nature of Crash Test. It is very much about allowing the writer to see how their piece looks and sounds once rehearsed and brought to life for the first time. It should not require a stage full of props at this stage in its evolution.

We require a title page! This is a cover page on which the following is written:
a) The Title Of The Play
b) The Log Line (shown underneath that play's title) This is a one sentence succinct summary of your play, which gives an insight into the theme of the story.
c) The writer's name and contact details (phone number, email address)

Plays to be submitted need to be formatted so that the cast and director can easily interpret the words and directions.

Please number your pages!

It is advisable to keep directions to a bare minimum. There are many sites where downloadable programs are available to assist in script writing and which may be of help.

Only original plays that have not previously been performed will be accepted.

Only one play per writer per event will be accepted.

All plays submitted for acceptance will be pre-read, out of which the 8 best plays will be accepted. This is entirely at the discretion of the CTD Bundanoon convenor.

Playwrights may not act in their own play.

Playwrights must be in attendance.

Playwrights must bring sufficient copies of their script for all actors, director, self and perhaps a spare. Highlighters are also a must.


We prefer the writers to direct their own plays where possible. If there is a strong reason for a writer to not be able to direct their own work, it is up to the them to arrange for someone to direct it for them.

Writer/Directors may only direct one play per event.

Writer/directors do not act in the play they direct.


Actors are cast for plays at the start of the event.

Actors are not allowed to be pre-cast. All actors must be selected via the casting ballot.

Actors usually perform in one play only, but in case of a shortage actors may be cast in a maximum of two plays.

The Casting Process

The casting process is open to everyone regardless of age and or experience. Crash Test aims to encourage new actors, directors and writers to dip their toes in the shallow waters of Crash Test theatre and see if it’s for them.

The casting process is one where the actors are asked to read a short passage from a pre-prepared audition sheet. The writer/directors use this period in which to note the actors that would suit their piece.

Once the auditions have concluded, the writers/directors choose their casts in a ballot format where the writer/director who has drawn the #1 card selects their first choice cast member. Then the writer/director that drew the #2 card selects their first choice actor; and so it goes on, until all plays have been cast.

Performance Criteria and Process

Crash Test Drama is minimalistic out of necessity. With 8 plays to run, the ability to effect a quick changeover is paramount. Writers need to be conscious of this aspect when writing their play.

While every endeavour is made to accommodate all eight plays on the day, the event organisers reserve the right to limit the number of plays to be performed if there are insufficient actors to allow all plays to be performed.

An elemental part of the Crash Test process is to discipline writers to write their play within 10 minutes. Ideally aiming to be spot on 10 minutes, though the play can of course run under 10 minutes. There are penalties for plays that run over!

In the heats, a play can run to 11 minutes without penalty. If between 11 and 12, it will have 5 audience votes deducted. If between 12 and 13, it will be docked a further 5 votes and if over 13 minutes it will be disqualified.

Things tighten up in the Gala Final, when the one minute of grace is removed. In the Gala Final, a play running between 10 and 11 minutes will be docked 5 votes. From 11 to 12, a further 5 votes will be deducted and if over 12 minutes it will be disqualified.

The author of a play is not permitted to act in the play in the heats, though is permitted to act in their play in the Gala Final.