What to watch at NYUAD Arts Centre this year: Kenyan theatre to poetry at Louvre Abu Dhabi

Most shows will be streamed in various formats from the arts centre's website

South Korea's sEODo Band are a major highlight of NYUAD Arts Centre's seventh performance season. Photo: NYUAD Arts Centre
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The NYUAD Arts Centre has unveiled its first batch of shows as part of its seventh performance season.

True to form, it's an eclectic mix of events that aim to intrigue and inspire through various genres and formats, including experimental theatre, films, dance and adventurous music from South Korea.

Running under the theme Now and Into the Future, artistic director Bill Bragin tells The National that audiences have gradually embraced the arts centre's pivot to online performances during the pandemic.

"What we learnt over the past year and a half is that people need the arts to survive and that it's not viewed as a luxury," he says.

"It has been something that people have been holding on to during these really difficult times and through the arts centre season, they also found ways to connect with other people."

Here, discover the main highlights of the centre's winter programme, with the 2022 component of the season to be announced later this year.

Learn about the regional hip-hop scene

Get insight into the regional street-art community through the documentary It Ain't Where You From.

Co-commissioned with Shubbak Festival in London, the 30-minute film takes audiences from Beirut to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where you encounter some of the dancers, rappers and artists that make up the vibrant scene, through interviews and monologues.

“The film is really about the challenge of pursuing your dream," director and former dancer Philip Rachid told The National.

"And this is particularly difficult when it comes to being a street artist because in many ways it remains not accepted as an expression or profession.

"This is despite [the fact] people involved are the ones who went on to influence mainstream culture."

It Ain't Where You From will stream on the NYUAD Arts Centre website on Tuesday, September 7 at 8pm

Experience solo theatre from Kenya

After the success of 2020's Theatre For One shows, the immersive concept of one-on-one performances returns with evocative stories from Kenya.

A collaboration with Octopus Theatricals and the Nairobi Musical Theatre Initiative, the five-minute shows feature tales spawned from Kenya's rich traditions.

Theatre For One: We Are Here (Nairobi Edition) will be performed on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays between September 15 and 26. Shows will take place from 8pm to 9.30pm. Tickets are free upon registration at the NYU AD Arts Centre website

A hip-hop show by two regional talents

Here's a must-watch for the hip-hop heads.

Sudanese-American rapper Oddisee will team up with Tunisian counterpart Medusa TN for a performance filmed as part of Jam3a, an online music festival produced by the Arab American National Museum in Michigan, US.

The collaboration will have a regional flavour with Saudi hip-hop personality Big Hass hosting a discussion with both artists after the gig.

The show will stream on Sunday, September 26 at 9pm

Hear the ‘Chosun Pop’ of South Korea’s sEODo Band

There is more to South Korean music than just K-pop.

One of the country’s acclaimed groups, sEODo Band, will perform their brand of Chosun Pop, a style blending traditional Korean folk elements with contemporary styles including pop and soul music.

The show will stream on Wednesday, November 10 at 8pm

Films from the region with Cinema Na

A collaboration between NYU Abu Dhabi and Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, this film series begins on Monday, October 4 with two works by pioneering Syrian filmmaker Mohammad Malas. Audiences can watch 1992's Al-lail (The Night) and 2005’s Bab el makam (Passion), as well as Unlocking Doors of Cinema, a documentary about the filmmaker.

Monday, November 8, meanwhile, will be dedicated to Jocelyne Saab with a trio of works by the late Lebanese director. The programme features the 2005 film Dunia (Kiss Me Not on the Eyes) and documentaries Beirut, My City (1982) and 1996’s The Lady of Saigon.

Each screening, with times to be announced soon, will be followed by a panel discussion featuring regional filmmakers.

Hekaya and Rooftop Rhythms return

The NYUAD Arts Centre's annual UAE National Day celebration, Hekayah, will be held on Wednesday, November 24 with a diverse group of UAE creatives, who will perform poetry, prose and song. The show begins at 7pm.

Meanwhile, one of the region's longest-running poetry open-mic nights, Rooftop Rhythms, with kick off with a special in-person performance at Louvre Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, November 17.

Other events, held on these Wednesdays, September 29, October 20 and December 15, will be streamed online. Rooftop Rhythms's times will be announced soon.

The full list of shows is at nyuad-artscenter.org; all shows are free and held online unless otherwise stated

Updated: August 25, 2021, 8:39 AM