Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

The Theatre: community space in Mall of the Emirates to screen regional and local films

The theatre space will start showcasing more Middle Eastern films now it has reopened

Vivien Sansour, one of the co-producers of The Golden Harvest, walking with farmer Abu Nidal, near the town of Walaji in the West Bank. 
Vivien Sansour, one of the co-producers of The Golden Harvest, walking with farmer Abu Nidal, near the town of Walaji in the West Bank. 

Two features by filmmakers based in the UAE will be screening at experimental space The Theatre in the Mall of the Emirates this month.

Musk by Emirati director Humaid AlSuwaidi will show at the venue on Saturday, September 19, at 8pm. The family drama explores the relationship between Ahmed, a cynical man on the verge of a divorce, and his aloof 12-year-old son.

The Golden Harvest by Palestinian-American filmmaker Alia Yunis – an associate professor teaching audio-visual media at Zayed University – will show the week after, screening on Saturday, September 26, at 8pm.

The two films are among the first film screenings at The Theatre since the venue reopened in July after coronavirus-related restrictions eased.

The venue was previously known as Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre (Ductac), which closed in 2018.

Its closure was a disappointment to many as Ductac was one of the earliest places in Dubai where residents could enjoy small productions and amateur shows.

The venue reopened earlier this year on a trial basis, rebranded as The Theatre. However, as the coronavirus broke out, The Theatre closed and its scheduled shows were cancelled.

Since it reopened again earlier this summer, it has hosted a number of shows and activities to patrons, including a 3D modelling summer camp for children, The Princess Show sing-a-long stage performance and a stand-up comedy show by South Korean comic Wonho Chung.

Rania Ashur, founder of Art For All and the force behind The Theatre’s reopening, says while the coronavirus pandemic has affected many of The Theatre’s plans, making it difficult to bring performers to the venue from abroad, it has also brought the opportunity to present more regional films.

“I always wanted to do a film club within The Theatre for the films and documentaries that aren’t screened in cinemas,” Ashur says. “Somewhere where we can present local and regional works.”

The two films showing this month mark a step towards achieving that goal, Ashur says. “We’ll be screening more works from the region in the next few months. We’ll also be showing international films, but the focus will be on regional works.

The venue has also begun offering a wide range of classes, from language courses teaching Italian, French and Arabic to ballet classes and performing arts workshops in English and Arabic.

“The venue is a community theatre for the people of the UAE,” Ashur says. “We are trying to cater to different nationalities, different backgrounds, different ages and interests. There is something for everyone.”

Ashur says the venue is still on a trial run. However, its tentative end date has been pushed until the end of this year. Whether or not the curtain will come down on The Theatre, is up to the community. They need to show they're going to use it.

Still, Ashur is hopeful.

“Many were disappointed that Ductac closed down in 2018,” Ashur says. “So people are excited that we have reopened. We need a space that delivers small to amateur shows and smaller-scale productions for the community.”

Updated: September 17, 2020 05:16 PM

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