Dubai and Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

Happy New Year! We wish you and ourselves many exciting, exhilarating and thought-provoking performances in 2021! 

This monthly overview will help you to find live or online performance to visit in January in or via one of the UAE venues. We are publishing our overview later than usual (as our regular date is the last day of the month)  as we felt that most of us were carried away by the festive season and decided to wait till everyone is “back on track”. The venues though seem to need a bit more time for dance and theatre program ( and we all understand the reasons) – the January program is quite short – but, luckily, versatile. It offers drama-comedy, impro theatre, interactive phone performance, spoken word theatre and even an impro musical!  

We suspect that the stage program will keep filling in during the month and will be regularly updating this overview, so just check for the updates in a week or so in order not to miss anything exciting! 

As for the current moment, the dance and theatre repertoire in the UAE in January looks like this: 

INUA ELLAMS’ BORDERS & CROSSINGS| Spoken word theatre
JANUARY 7-10 (various times) | Arts Centre NYUAD | Online Via The Public Theater (NY)| Tickets: registration required, donation suggested

*Photo courtesy of Arts Centre NYUAD.

Born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother against a backdrop of sectarian violence, Inua Ellams left Nigeria for England in 1996 aged 12, moved to Ireland for three years, before returning to London. An award-winning poet, performer, playwright, graphic artist, and designer, Inua returns to the theme of migration in his work, exploring his own life experiences and wider global and political questions. BORDERS & CROSSINGSis an opportunity to get to know Inua and hear some of his poetic and dramatic work on this theme, live and online from London.

BORDERS & CROSSINGS will be presented at Under The Radar 2021, live and online from London. It is presented in partnership with The Public Theater, through their Under The Radar Global Partner Program.

By Inua Ellams (U.K.). Produced by Fuel. Learn more about about Fuel Theatre at www.fueltheatre.com and @FuelTheatre. Ticket booking and viewing is managed by The Public Theater (New York City)

600 HIGHWAYMEN’S A THOUSAND WAYS (PART ONE): A PHONE CALL | Interactive performance
UNTIL JANUARY 17 (various times) | Arts Centre NYUAD | Online Via The Public Theater (NY)| Tickets: registration required, donation suggested

*Photo courtesy of Arts Centre NYUAD.

Missed out on participating in A Thousand Ways (co-commissioned by The Arts Center) or interested in re-experiencing the piece? Here’s your chance! Discover a new connection in a poetic work presented by award-winning theater artists 600 HIGHWAYMEN at The Public Theater in New York. Take part in an interactive experience and discover what it means to create connection in times of isolation in this enthralling, and imaginative work.

Pick up the phone. Someone is on the line. You don’t know their name, and you still won’t when the hour is over, but through this exchange – as you follow a thread of automated prompts – a portrait of your partner will emerge through fleeting moments of exposure. A THOUSAND WAYS “takes a simple premise and turns it into magic” (The New Yorker).

A THOUSAND WAYS (PART ONE): A PHONE CALL is the first of an eventual three-part series by Obie Award-winning theatermakers 600 HIGHWAYMEN, known for exhilarating performances that challenge the very definition of theater.

Taking place around the world, A THOUSAND WAYS explores the line between strangeness and kinship, distance and proximity, and how the most intimate assembly can become profoundly radical. Free booking for performances will begin in early December.

Co-commissioned by The Arts Center. Ticket booking and viewing is managed by The Public Theater (New York City) 

DARMIYAAN – SACH AUR JHOOTH KI LADAAI | Comedy – drama 
JANUARY 7, 8 & 9 7.30pm | The Junction. | Language: Hindi + English = Hinglish | Tickets: from 80aed

*Photo courtesy of The Junction.

Darmiyaan means ‘In-between’ which is where the story of the play exists, in between a truth and a lie. This comedy-drama play is about a CEO of an advertising agency, who is accused of harassing his protégé. Guilty until proven innocent, the board committee steps in, giving them a chance to clarify their stand. Directed by Saif Khan.

More information about the event here.

The NT LIVE SCREENING: FRANKENSTEIN | Theatre – Live Screening
JANUARY 7 & 8, 8.00pm| The Courtyard Playhouse | Tickets: access for members*

*Photo courtesy of The Courtyard Playhouse.

Frankenstein by Nick Dear, based on the novel by Mary Shelley 

7 Jan Screening featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the monster , 8 Jan Screening featuring Jonny Lee Miller as the monster. Directed by Academy Award®-winner Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire), Frankenstein features Benedict Cumberbatch (Hamlet, BBC’s Sherlock) and Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary, Trainspotting) alternating between the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his creation.

Childlike in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein’s bewildered creature is cast out into a hostile universe by his horror-struck maker. Meeting with cruelty wherever he goes, the increasingly desperate and vengeful Creature determines to track down his creator and strike a terrifying deal.

Scientific responsibility, parental neglect, cognitive development and the nature of good and evil, are embedded within this thrilling and deeply disturbing classic tale. Captured live on stage in 2011, this thrilling, sold-out production became an international sensation, experienced by almost half a million people in cinemas around the world.

Watch the trailer here.

*To gain access to NT Live screenings, you need to purchase the membership. More information on the website.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT IMPROV’: MAESTRO | Improv Theatre 
JANUARY 20 & 27, 7.00pm | The Courtyard Playhouse | Exclusive to members*

*Photo courtesy of The Courtyard Playhouse.

Ten of Dubai’s virtuoso actors converge for a night of scenes, songs and games based on audience suggestions. You score the players on a scale of 1 to 5, and after each round, the players with the lowest scores are eliminated.

When only one remains they are crowned the Maestro!

SING IT! THE IMPROVISED MUSICAL | Improv Theatre 
JANUARY 20 & 27, 7.00pm | The Courtyard Playhouse | Exclusive to members*

*Photo courtesy of The Courtyard Playhouse.

Sing it is the Courtyard Playhouse’s new and completely improvised full-length Musical Theatre show! Songs, lyrics and dance numbers will be spontaneously created by our cast and fashioned into a full-length improvised Musical extravaganza! Entirely based on audience suggestion and utterly different each week, join us on Monday evening’s at the Courtyard Playhouse and Sing It!

LE CLAN DES DIVORCEES  | Comedy | Language: French
JANUARY 21 8.00pm |The Theatre at Mall of The Emirates | Tickets: starting 185aed

*Photo courtesy of The Theatre at the Mall of the Emirates.

Three divorced women share the same apartment: Stéphanie the high class one,  Mary the British one and Brigitte the one from the countryside.

Stephanie, recently single, decides to change her life starting to settle in Paris. To live in her large apartment she is looking for two roommates; it will be under the guise of two other divorced women: Mary, a little saucy English who just left a man over; and Brigitte, rural divorcing too.

These three women characters and different social statuses go through this ordeal mutually supporting.

Artistic collaboration: Pascal Legitimus, it has been a huge success in Paris and France for the last 15 years, has been watched by more than 2 million people!

Book your tickets here.

IMPROVISED KIDS’ STORYTIME: LITTLE DAHLINGS  | An improvised play for kids 
JANUARY 22 & 29 11.30am | The Courtyard Playhouse | Exclusive to members*

*Photo courtesy of The Courtyard Playhouse.

An improvised play for kids, celebrating the splendiferous world of Roald Dahl.

Dive into the magical mind of one of the most adored children’s authors in this unique and interactive play created by you, the audience! Help Roald decide on the hero of our story, and the villains, monsters, friends and animals we will meet along the way. Expect music, singing, dancing, silliness and sumptillious adventure…whether you are a fan of greedy Augustus Gloop, musical genius Matilda or the terrible Twits, Little Dahlings will make you tickle with trepidation and churgle with laughter.

Suitable for ages 3-100. For more info about Improvised Kids’ Storytime click here.

*To gain access to Improvised Kids Storytime, you have to purchase a membership. More information on the website.

ABRACADABRUNCH  | Comedy | Language: French
JANUARY 22 8.00pm |The Theatre at Mall of The Emirates | Tickets: starting 185aed

*Photo courtesy of The Theatre at the Mall of the Emirates.

She has a mission, for him hell will begin … François Coulon is 45 years old and has just sold his business. Single, selfish, misogynist, cavalier, rude, in bad faith … he decided to devote the rest of his life to himself. Happiness according to François! But she has a mission! For him hell will begin!

Did you know? This comedy, which began on 02/10/15 at La Grande Comédie, has already won over 250,000 spectators in Paris alone! For more information, Please email contact@culture-emulsion.com or call 050 9058401.

Book your tickets here.

SHORT+SWEET 2021 DUBAI | Theatre
JANUARY 22 – MARCH 20 (various times) | The Junction. | Tickets: 100-150aed

*Photo courtesy of The Junction.

Returning to The Junction in AlSerkal Avenue from 22nd January to 20th March, 2021, with a record 120+ plays, Short+Sweet 2021 Dubai will be showcasing 10 minute plays written by remarkable writers from not only all over the world but also enthusiastic thespians from the local theatre community.

The theme this year is “Hold The Stage” and we expect nothing less from over 350 of the city’s top writers, directors and actors – to create eight-weeks of fun, entertainment and incredible talent to bring to you the largest performing arts festival in the GCC.

Over its historic 9 years, Short+Sweet Theatre Dubai has helped to discover and guide many of UAE’s top theatre artists who have gone on to success in the region and internationally. The festival will be repeating its Regional Week (non-english play week) that was introduced in Short+Sweet 2018 and adding a week of Shakespeare plays thus having six weeks of 125 short tales before culminating to a challenging semi- final and an even more spectacular final.

This year, the festival is split into two categories, Contenders and Challengers, with each bringing its own flavor to the stage. Ranging from drama to comedy and sometimes even horror, this Festival is a definitive must watch for all, especially those that enjoy the stage.

As always, Short+Sweet audiences have a very important role – voting for the best plays and deciding their progress to battle it out for the title of Short+Sweet 2021 Dubai Winners.

Short+Sweet 2021 Dubai will also mark the return of many Gala finalists from previous years along with an incredible number of new faces.

Short+Sweet 2021 Dubai also sees a new Festival Team in Aditi Nath, Director of the Festival, Saloni Mehta, Director and Media & Communications and Seema Kunder, Director of Production. “It has been fun shifting gears from participants to organizing team this year. Right from the registrations to watching a lot of new talent auditions and now coming closer to the festival kickoff, it has been a great learning experience and we can’t wait to see how the festival shapes up.

As we sort through the plays and prepare the line-ups we are extremely excited to have audiences experience this showcase, especially Shakespeare Week and another year of Short+Sweet!”

According to Gautam Goenka, the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of The Junction, ”Short+Sweet is one of the most exciting events on the calendar of Dubai theatre and we’re really excited to see it back for its 9th year despite the challenging times around the world and challenging times here. I am thrilled for Short+Sweet, as it is certainly one of the biggest festivals we do each year and the talent that we uncover go on to support theatre in the city for years to come.”

During the Festival, Contenders will be performing every Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30PM while the Challengers take place at 2:30PM every Saturday.

The top plays as chosen by the Judges and the Audience of every week then go on to progress into the People’s Choice Semi-Final and Judges Choice Semi-Final on the weekends of March 5th, 6th, 12th & 13th.

The very best plays then perform in the Red Carpet Gala Finals from 18th – 20th March.

The Junction and Alserkal Avenue adhere to strict social distancing guidelines, no entries will be permitted without a mask.

Tickets will be available on BookMyShow shortly. For further details, kindly contact us at the Junction on 04 3388 525.

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