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Arabic theatre nurtures youth in Dubai

10-08-2012 10:10 BJT

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By CCTV correspondent Lourda Sexton

The sixth annual Dubai festival for youth theatre is taking place in Dubai until Monday. The festival aims to strengthen the local theatre culture and provide a new generation of actors.

Theatre may be one of the UAE’s oldest art forms but in a country that is dominated by expatriates the role of local Arabic theatre has not taken centre stage. The Dubai festival for youth theatre is changing this. With the festival providing a platform for aspiring local talent to showcase their skills.

Now in it’s sixth year, the festival has developed a loyal following.

Yasser Algergawi, performing arts Mngr, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said, "This started in 2005 when we organized our first small workshop, and from that workshop when ended up with a small show where the family of the participants attends that play. And after one year in 2006, we started to create a competition from that small show and the people who won the competition ask to turn this into a small festival that’s grown from 2007 to 2012. This is the 6th year of the festival. Last year by the way we had 11 plays participate in festival but because most of the plays were not matching the quality of what we call theatrical festival, this year we have created a small committee of what we call experts who know the secrets of how to have good plays for the festival. And this year they have selected five plays. Let me call them good plays in terms of quality, in terms of entertainment in terms of culture as well."

The sixth annual Dubai festival for youth theatre is taking place in Dubai.

The shortlisted plays are performing at the festival each evening. With a jury of experts judging their performances. And the winners will be awarded at the closing ceremony. While the theatre may be locally focused, this years plays have a very universal context. Dealing with issues such as a young man’s struggle to make ends meet, a fathers emotional battle with his daughter for marrying a man of his choice and a married couple’s relationship struggles.

Experts have been brought in from international markets to offer advise and to critique the plays. And like what they have seen.

Richard P. Twyman, theater director, Royal Shakespeare Company, said, "I’ve been really impressed by the quality of the work that’s been on show here. These are very young artists that are just at the outset of their careers. But what they all share is an incredible passion for theatre and an incredible desire to push back the boundaries of their practice and work so there has been some real skill and talent on show. The acting in particular has been of a fantastic standard, real commitment from these young performers taking these plays and roles absolutely by the scruff of the kneck."

While a young theatre scene here, it has one critical element in place. This is the support by older generations of theatre makers. Who are fostering and nurturing the young talent. One of the mentors is Mariam Sultan, who is known as the mother of theatre in the UAE and was awarded personality of the year at this year’s festival.

Mariam Sultan, actress & personality of the year, said, "We have witnessed a sea of change, we were two or three actresses to start with and now we have developed and female elements have increased. Like instead of a man taking the role of a woman, women now act as women. They act as daughters, mothers, sisters and so on. So the change is obvious and we have more women in plays, in theatres and more in soap operas and movies."

With local theatre is evolving, their hope is to gain an international fan base.

The year the festival is providing simultaneous translations of the Arabic plays into English for the first time allowing wider international audiences like myself to come and see Arabic theatre which is a welcome initiative.

The sixth annual Dubai festival for youth theatre is taking place in Dubai.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: CCTV.com

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