x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai's method man

q&a Kemsley Dickinson is to stage the one-woman show, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, that won raves in London in 2006.

Kemsley Dickinson teaches method acting to adults.
Kemsley Dickinson teaches method acting to adults.

Kemsley Dickinson is the founder of Drama Workshops Dubai. He is currently planning a one-woman show, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, based on the death of an activist in Gaza. It is to be toured in communities around Dubai with a local actor. A new eight-week drama course, The Last Word Monologues, starts on Oct 9 at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre.

It's a mixed-bag of people. It's so diverse a demographic it's unbelievable. People come from the Middle East, Western Europe, North America, Asia - you never know who you're going to get. The UAE probably is the one place where you can get that absolute random sample of ages, races, skill sets and occupations. However, a lot of people come into the course with the wrong idea of what it is and go on to drop it. They think it's a fun social club or that it's like going back to school and doing a few drama games. It's not. It's a challenging 10-week course; it's about seriously bettering yourself as an actor. We build up to a performance in the auditorium at the Mall of Emirates and it's videotaped and professionally photographed, there's an end-game there. Of course, you do make friendships and meet some incredible people, but really the emphasis is on achievement, it is not a walk in the park. You even get some homework.

Actually, I'm putting on the show and looking to tour it. But I need a venue. If Abu Dhabi wants to put on this relevant show here, a local production with UAE actors, I'd be happy to do it in this city as well. I know the arts are supported here quite proactively, so anyone interested need only get in touch.

This play is one that takes place in the Middle East. It was written by the actor Alan Rickman (Snape from the Harry Potter films) and is based on the memoirs of Rachel Corrie who was run over by a bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. Performances of it were shut down in the US. People care about this subject matter here.

Drama Workshops Dubai started after someone told me I should create a professional course for adults here. Although I didn't think anyone would sign-up, I was contacted by 80 people with just one poster publicising it. Since then, interest has been great. Now, corporations want actor training for their employees to equip them with basic presentation skills. So I would say balancing it with my day job as a school teacher is quite difficult. That said, I've got other people now working alongside me at the workshops. Answering the phone, updating the website. It's in its very initial stages but it's growing massively. In terms of funding, this is completely my own venture. I'm not funded, I'm not sponsored by anyone. It's non-profit at the moment, but I'm hoping to make some money off it eventually. This is the reason why I wanted to leave the amateur circuit. I wanted to raise the bar a little bit, and also I wasn't my own boss. I wanted to put on theatre that I was in complete control of and was at the standard I'd like theatre to be at here.

To regularly put on relevant, cutting-edge and modern theatre in the UAE utilising home-grown talent. I've put on five or six shows now and we've got enough people here, enough talent to continually do something local rather than something manufactured.

Sign-up is in September, workshops start in October. Anyone who's interested in any aspect needs to e-mail me. Everything to do with theatre in Dubai is so dispersed, there's no one specifically handling it. Actors often do not hear about auditions and open calls. What I'm doing first is starting a monthly e-mail newsletter that would incorporate everything that is drama related. Be it workshops, be it auditions, be it shows - If someone wants to know anything about drama in Dubai, they can get the newsletter and get all that information in a consolidated form. You may think that it's a daunting task to do that for the entire city, but it's not.
Click on @email:www.dramaworkshopsdubai.com for further information on Kemsley Dickinson's Drama Workshops in Dubai.