When I heard that Courtyard Playhouse was hosting a new concept called ‘Grassroots Revue’ to encourage locally grown talent to perform, you bet I was very interested to watch the performances. I went on a Friday (the 4th of April, 2014) and it was jam packed. Here was a warm and welcoming space where home grown talent was encouraged- a great platform giving performers a voice. To be seen, to be heard, to be visible, to be acknowledged. To connect with others.
I, for one, returned home with a lighter heart, with a warm sense of feeling like I belonged somewhere.
You see, when I returned to Abu Dhabi after my Masters degree in the UK, I felt creatively crippled (Abu Dhabi was my home and my parents lived there, so it seemed natural to return to Abu Dhabi). I am talking the late 1990s and I had no outlet to creatively express in a way that I wanted to. I so longed for the glory days at university where I would co-create plays with other actor college-mates, play the piano and even act. I so longed to write poems and publish short stories.
Since then, I have had a fair amount of writing published in various magazines, and I continue to paint, design and create handcrafts. But I had successfully left (disowned?) the theatrical performer part of me in my past. However, when deep calls to deep, we creatives have no choice but to heed the voice to creative awakenings. The soul stirs from its reverie with a desire stronger than ever before to perform and play once again.
Thankfully, these days we don’t have any excuse to remain creatively crippled, what with the UAE booming with a myriad art and arts ventures, that even I can’t allow myself to wallow in perennial despondency. That yes, even in the world where glitz and glamour may steal much of the limelight, there are folks such as the Courtyard Playhouse and talented peeps on stage who believe in harnessing the deep power of creativity in its shapes and forms. Regardless. That talent, when shared in a haven as the Courtyard Playhouse, starts to drive potential for social change, as people become awakened to the co-morbidities of stressful corporate life or a mundane life (however you see it). This is immensely gratifying – to be the creative incubators of such change is such an immense call on one’s life. One that should not be ignored.
Coming to the performances at Grassroots Revue. Photos by Tiffany Schultz reflect a full house that was a deeply engaged one. Performances from improv to poetry, from musicals to short plays was worth watching. Some of the poetry was very deep and heart wrenching. An image of crying Syria portrayed with immense brokenness by Hind Shoufani, reminded me of my own alienation from my own passport culture (being raised as a third culture kid). Soulful singing by Gayathri, the sad mother-son story ‘Sam’s friend’ and music renditions by Isis M reminded me of my happy childhood with my parents, brothers in Abu Dhabi. A hilarious skit based on familiar Dubai experiences, the Asscats Improv, the Evil Colleague play and Romeo & Juliet had me laughing off my seat.
To those who performed at Grassroots Revue. You have inspired other creatives who have made the UAE their home, to step and and show the world their talent. You have given us hope that we can create our own futures and experiences by opening our hearts to the possibilities of what we can offer the world.
As for me. I hope to take one baby step towards getting back into theatre. I do not know how, I do not where, I do not know when. Perhaps writing this reflective blog story was that baby step. My journey into art has been a powerful one for me, so far. It can only get better.
Share below, one step you will take to move out of being creatively crippled towards showcasing your work, or at least acknowledging it. Love to hear from you.
Interested in drama? Try the Courtyard Playhouse.
All photos are © Tiffany Schultz & the Courtyard Playhouse. Used with permission.