Raising the curtain on The Courtyard Playhouse in Al Quoz

When it comes to performing arts, improv and the spoken word, there is so much to discover in Dubai — if you know where to look.

Located in Al Quoz, close to Dubai's arty hub, Alserkal Avenue, The Courtyard Playhouse is a great place to start.

This quaint community theatre is a little gem, providing the city's muses with a platform to express their ingenuity wholeheartedly.

Founded by artist and photographer Tiffany Schultz and Artistic Director Kemsley Dickinson, the 58-seat theatre really makes a statement — it is dimly lit, giving it a dramatic feel, punctuated by striking red seats.

First in Dubai

Transformed from an old office building at the end of last year, The Courtyard Playhouse is the first of Dubai's theatres to operate as a performing arts venue and rehearsal space with a dedicated team of artists and performers who provide training in a variety of creative skills.

The playhouse specializes in hosting workshops, seminars and corporate training, as well as, of course, performances and plays. The Desert Monologues group holds adult acting workshops that culminate in performances and Schultz runs an introduction to digital photography course.

The groups Comedy Dubai and Improv Dubai also run stand-up comedy sessions and drop-in improvisation events respectively.

The poetry events, run by Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck, winner of the 2013 Backwaters Prize for her first collection, To Live in Autumn, due to be published in September, are inspiring and capture the imagination.

Beck's latest workshop had four students — Lara Bogdanovic, Marie Dullaghan, Rosine Saad and Rasha Al Duwaisan — writing original material and preparing for six weeks for a public performance.

The culmination of their efforts took place on the evening of May 25 in a dramatic showcase of how far the writers had come with a few weeks of training. Experienced poet Frank Dullaghan and Beck also performed.

The size of the theatre suits such events superbly, allowing spectators to connect and empathise with the performers and their work — a quality that adds to the character of this venue.

For people with a particular interest in poetry and the spoken word, there is another event worthy of mention.

Open mic

Punch, held at Book-Much Café in Al Wasl Square and also run by Beck, offers something a little different. The casual surrounds of BookMunch and the open mic session that Punch offers — where anyone in the audience who signs up in advance can take the mic and perform for up to three minutes—will appeal. The next event takes place early this month.

I've certainly found a place in my heart for such events, The Courtyard Playhouse and the passion and dedication of the performers and those who run the place. If you're looking for something a little different to do with your evenings or weekends, why not drop by?

The next performance at The Courtyard Playhouse, Hard to Swallow by Mark Wheeller, presented by The Factory Theatre Ensemble, takes place on June 9-10.

For more information visit: www.courtyardplayhouse.com | For more on the upcoming Punch event, visit: www.zeinahashembeck.com to contact the coordinator or: www.bookmunchcafe.com for more on the venue.

Source: Melanie Smith, Subeditor, Property Weekly

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