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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Theatre talent takes centre stage at Dubai festival

Young thespians have a lot to look forward to over the next five months

A live show production from the 2016 Dubai Festival of Youth Theatre. Courtesy: Dubai Culture and Arts Authority​.

NOTE: Dubai Festival of Youth Theatre story
A live show production from the 2016 Dubai Festival of Youth Theatre. Courtesy: Dubai Culture and Arts Authority​. NOTE: Dubai Festival of Youth Theatre story

Budding stars of stage and screen are well catered for this summer with a packed schedule of workshops and initiatives organised by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

A festival programme that runs from this week until November next year has been mapped out in the run up to the 11th edition of the Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre.

New and exclusive to this year’s line-up of events are 10 specialised theoretical and practical workshops, supervised by experts from the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts in Cairo.

The workshops are open to children ages 15 years and over, and participants will be given the chance to attend live stage shows in the Middle East, go on field trips to reputed theatres and take part in forums debating how best to develop the UAE’s performing-arts sector.

“I think the festival is a really positive idea and Dubai desperately needs it,” says theatre producer, director and freelance media consultant Priyanka Geriya. “There’s so much talent here in the UAE, but for many teenagers and adults, acting or directing is not a full-time profession.

“Theatre is something they explore as an outside interest – it’s a passion. I think we’ll continue to see positive changes in the regional theatre scene, and events like this festival open up so many avenues to those pursuing their craft seriously.”

Students can register directly with the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority to be considered for a place this year. The list of requisites for successful candidates is comprehensive. Not only do applicants need to be disciplined enough to fully commit to the hours of lengthy workshops, they must also have sufficient talent. Organisers say that hopefuls should also be good team players and able to “handle the pressures of intensive psychological and physical training”.

Courses for July, which last up to seven days, will span the range of theatrical script-writing, voice and language coaching for actors and stage costumes. In August, workshops on dramatic make-up and overall theatre production will be held, followed by classes on acting and theatre directing in September. Come October, participants will have the opportunity to learn about theatre décor, and the last two workshops – theatrical lighting and sound effects and music – will be held in November.

The DCAA's approach is an academic one, aimed at nurturing the creative stars of tomorrow and inspiring the young talent of the Emirates today. To keep participants motivated, the festival will launch a host of new competitions this year, including a theatrical composition contest under the theme of the UAE’s Year of Giving.

“On-the-job training is really important,” says 16-year-old student and aspiring actress Anushka Mirchandani. “If you want to act on stage, you need to know how things work backstage and also experience the hard work and effort that goes into directing and producing.

“As well as work experience, the two festival workshops I would be most interested in would probably be directing and theatrical make-up. I’d love to be an actor one day, and while I feel that theatre in the UAE isn’t really given as much importance as it is in countries like India or the US, I do think that slowly more opportunities are appearing and helping things grow.”

As part of its endeavours to assess the social contribution of Dubai’s theatre scene and keep developing collaborative solutions to industry challenges, the DCAA will hold high-level discussions and workshops of its own. The focus on the individual players, and the wider sector, is part of the authority’s strategy to take things to the next level.

“We are proud of the festival’s achievements which managed to establish its reputation as the ideal platform for ambitious drama enthusiasts in the UAE,” says Fatima Al Jallaf, head of Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre and acting events manager. “This year’s format focuses in particular on the academic development of the participant’s talents. The festival has grown exponentially to become a major event for both the established and budding theatre community in the UAE, with our emerging talent workshop allowing new talents to seek the guidance of specialised theatre artists.”

For details about the Dubai Festival for Youth Theatre, visit www.dubaiculture.gov.ae.