ShortLived VIII

48 Plays. 9 Weeks. 1 Champion. $5,000 on the line. YOU DECIDE.

ShortLived VIII: The Finals

The nation’s largest, audience-judged theater competition, PianoFight’s ShortLived, ran 48 short plays through the ringer for over 2 months. Each play was scored by the audience, and 8 plays clinched a spot in The Finals which took place at ACT’s Strand Theater on September 6 and 7 at 8pm. With it all on the line during Finals, our audience spoke, and named The Official Unicorn Hunter’s Guide the ShortLived VIII Champions, and recipients of the $5,000 Grand Prize.

“Good for theater” – NY Times
“Better than SNL” – SF Weekly
“A knock-out success” – East Bay Express

WINNER: The Official Unicorn Hunters’ Guide
written by Madison Wetzell and directed by Ciera Eis

2nd) Happy Holidays
written by Rose Oser, Weston Scott, and Christian B. Schmidt and directed by Rose Oser and Weston Scott

3rd: Rare Book Collectors
written by Shaun Plander and directed by Clinton Winder

4th) Falling
written by Sunil Patel and directed by Brennan Pickman-Thoon

5th) B-13
written by Kurt Weitzman and directed by Kurt Weitzmann and Mar Thaddeus Ronquillo

6th) Saving Mr. Bezos
written by Jordan Thewlis and directed by Ben Elie

7th) Hot Pockets
written by Richard Ciccarone and directed by Amanda Lee

8th) Even a Buddhist Has a Breaking Point
written by Matthew Weinberg and directed by Christian Heppinstall


The nation’s largest, audience-judged theater competition, PianoFight’s ShortLived, returns with 48 short plays, all scored by the audience, and $5,000 on the line for the winning team.

“Good for theater” – NY Times
“Better than SNL” – SF Weekly
“A knock-out success” – East Bay Express

The first eight weeks of competition are Regular Season Rounds, and each week features six new shorts that range from dramatic plays, comedic sketches, devised work, musicals, movement-based pieces or solo acts.

The audience scores each piece and the piece that scores highest in each round clinches a spot in the Finals (September 6-7). Of the eight total plays in the Finals, the team that scores the highest will win the competition and the $5,000 Grand Prize.

Hundreds of artists, making 48 plays, over 9 weeks, scored by audiences to crown 1 champion and the winner of $5,000. Get local. Get arty. Get in to ShortLived.

The ShortLived VIII Line-Up

Round 1: June 14-15

WINNER: Hot Pockets– Richard Ciccarone
2nd: Lady Madonna– Colette Gunn-Graffy
3rd: Cat Poop Makes you do Weird Shit– Lauren Gorski
4th: Vampire Blood– Matt Ginsburg
5th: The Beautiful Laundromat– Rex Bressler
6th: The Goatherder’s Dilemma– Maria Diploudis

Round 2: June 21-22

WINNER: The Official Unicorn Hunters’ Guide– Madison Wetzell
2nd: The Upgrade– Stacey Winn
3rd: The Hot Seat– Alan Kaatz
4th: 21st-Century Mauve– Veronica Dolginko
5th: My Life as a Modern Homosexual– Christian Heppinstall
6th: (w)omen– Mads Leigh-Faire

Round 3: July 5-6

WINNER: Saving Mr. Bezos– Jordan Thewlis
2nd: Cactus– Ryan Cicak
3rd: The River Sticks– Marcia Aguilar & Marie Broadway
4th: The Performance– Genie Carter
5th: Learning How to Die– Akaina Gosh
6th: Dust Thou Arf– Liana Emley

Round 4: July 12-13 – GET TICKETS

WINNER: B-13– Kurt Weitzman
2nd: I’m Gone. I’m So Gone. I Swear I’m Leaving Right Now.– Emma Mercier
3rd: If Boys Will Be Boys– Annette Roman
4th: Holiday Bonus– Dan Linley
5th: Embrace the Fire Within– Amanda Lee
6th: Uber– Christian Simonsen

Round 5: July 19-20 – GET TICKETS

WINNER: Even a Buddhist Has a Breaking Point– Matthew Weinberg
2nd: As You Like It – Joanne Goldberg
3rd: Everything We Do is Hard– Rebecca Capper
4th: The Ten Thousandth Hour– Rebecca Kurland
5th: Ghost Problems– Imran G & Stephen Ku
6th: The Sims’ Sims Jr.– Pero Theater Company

Round 6: July 26-27 – GET TICKETS

WINNER: Rare Book Collectors– Shaun Plander
2nd: Hiiiii – Alanna McFall
3rd: The Origin of the Tooth Fairy– Kayla Mahoney
4th: Hamilton Too– Calvin Albright & Tyler Smith
5th: The Church of Bruce– Liz Baker, Kiernan Mooney, Rob Thomas
6th: It’s In the Cards– David Cole

Round 7: August 2-3 – GET TICKETS

WINNER: Happy Holidays– Rose Oser, Weston Scott, and Christian B. Schmidt
2nd: Judgemental– Loîc Pichot
3rd: Billy Bob’s All-Ages Gender-Fluid Body-Positive Burlesque-O-Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong Extravaganza– Binge Watch Sketch Group
4th: White Lace Curtains– Sean Owens
5th: Wheel of Fortuna– Bridgette Dutta Portman
6th: Super-Plus Fixer Squad– Album Comedy

Round 8: August 9-10 – GET TICKETS

WINNER: Falling– Sunil Patel
2nd: The Test– Victoria Evans Erville
3rd: Mom’s House– Tom Bruett
4th: Messages from Down There– Ai
5th: You May Not Fire When Ready– Andrew Sarran
6th: Dr. Do Less– Vincent Bressler

THE FINALS: September 6-7, at ACT’s The Strand Theater

*Finals tickets will go on sale after the close of Round 8.

Last year’s winners, The Geek Show, with their piece “No Country for Old Henchmen.”


WHO: Everybody in the Bay Area
WHAT: ShortLived VIII. The largest audience-judged theater competition in the country.
HOW: Artists compete. Audiences decide. Winner gets $5K.
WHEN: June 14 – September 7
WHERE: Regular Season: PianoFight’s Main Stage | Finals: TBA
WHY: Glory. Bragging rights. FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Hello Artists. Do you think you’re good? You got what it takes to make an audience laugh, make them cry, think?

Well then PROVE IT. It’s that time of year where PianoFight gathers indy artists and storytellers of all stripes to compete in the nation’s largest audience-judged theater competition, ShortLived. And this is an open challenge.

No judges here, just the masses, who will vote on your fate and determine the winners. The grand prize is $5,000. That’s right, not 5 dollars, not 500 dollars, 5,000 big ones.

Competition starts Friday, June 14th and ends Saturday September 7th. There will be 8 Regular Season rounds, and one Finals round. Each round lasts one week and consists of three performances — a Friday night at 8pm show, and two Saturday shows at 5pm and 8pm. Each round will feature 6 short plays scored by each audience member to determine the winning piece. The winning piece of each Regular Season Round clinches a spot in the Finals. The Finals will include 8 total pieces,  have 2 performances, and the winner of the Finals wins the $5,000 cash prize.


  • GROUPS (Theater Co’s, Sketch Groups, Random collection of writers/actors/producers)
    If you’re part of any of the above, hit us up. Send a link to your site, a bit about the group, and the script you want to produce. If it’s totally freakin awesome, we’ll follow up and get you set up to compete.
  • INDIVIDUALS (playwrights, directors, producers, actors, solo artists)
    If you’ve got a script, or want to produce or direct for the competition, or want to act in this bad boy, hit us up. Send us your script, resume, headshot etc., and if it’s freaking dope, we’ll put you on a team and get you into the competition. [Non-Equity artists only]


Simple – the $5,000 is split evenly between everyone involved in the play – ie, writer / performers / director / costume designer etc. all get the same share of the pie. If you are the only person who made your play, then you get $5K if you win the competition. If your play needed three actors, a writer and a director then each person gets $1K.


All scripts should run 10 mins or less. There is no minimum length requirement. Props, costumes and sets must be minimal. If your piece requires an animatronic dragon, don’t send it. It won’t get in. If you’re a director who has a piece in which you can craftily figure out a way to make a fire spewing dragon appear while staying within the competition’s technical constraints, please do send it.

Comedies, dramas, musicals, movement-based pieces, devised work, and solo pieces are all acceptable. The only style or genre requirement is that there must be a working script.

Scripts should be new. This must be the first time your script has been produced on its feet with no scripts in hand. For sketch groups, that means you gotta write some new awesome, and can’t just submit a trusty crowd-favorite from your repertoire.

Writers and groups may only submit 3 scripts in total. 

This is a Locals Only competition. That means you’ve gotta live in the Bay Area to submit.


PianoFight’s New Faces Day / ShortLived Auditions happen on on Sat, March 30 from 10am-4pm.

To sign up for a slot, email with a subject like:

ROSARIO DAWSON – ACTOR – Headshot / Resume

Include in your email a headshot and resume (if you have them, if not, that’s ok too) and a time during the day when you’re available. We’ll get back to you with an audition slot.

It’s group audition that lasts less than an hour. You’ll do a warm up, a game, a cold read, and some singing. No need to prepare a monologue, and don’t worry about the singing – just go for it and have fun!


To be considered as a ShortLived Director, please send your resume to with the subject:


Deadline to submit for Directors is Fri, April 19th at 11:59pm. We’ll follow up with a quick interview. 


Script Submission Deadline is Fri, April 19th at 11:59pm.

Submission should be standard script format – PDFs or Word docs are fine.
Email subject should explain what you’re submitting and who you are – here are some examples:

SUZAN LORI PARKS – PLAYWRIGHT – “This Awesome Short Play Title”
MISSION CTRL – SKETCH GROUP – “Hella Funny Sketch Title”

Please send all submissions, inquiries, questions, etc to