We hit the stage with The Desert Monologues for a lesson in dramatics
If you’ve ever fancied yourself as the next Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, or had visions of yourself winning an Oscar, then The Desert Monologues Acting Workshop for adults might just be for you. Many a star has been born on a community theatre stage. Academy Award nominee Amy Adams began her career in dinner theatre, while Twilight actor Robert Pattinson started out in local amateur theatre in the UK. Drama enthusiasts can hone their skills from Saturday October 11 until Thursday November 27 at The Courtyard Playhouse in Al Quoz.
During the Desert Monologues workshop, students explore script work, improvisation and characterisation. It’s a diverse course designed to be challenging and fun, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned professional or an absolute beginner. Experienced instructors will teach you how to get the best out of your voice and improve your stagecraft. The course culminates with professionally recorded monologue performances in The Courtyard Playhouse, complete with theatrical lighting, sound, make-up and costume.
Running for seven years in Dubai, and now with a purpose-built space, The Desert Monologues is a doorway into a whole new creative side of the city. So with visions of fame and applause, we went to the playhouse to try our hand at acting. Arriving at the theatre and walking up the winding stairs, we were immediately hit with nerves upon seeing images of legendary actors and iconic theatre shows on the walls. Suddenly, William Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet quote, ‘To be, or not to be’ sprung to mind and we decided ‘to be’ was best, so we’d stay and wing it. With an A-level in Drama and Theatre Studies and a few amateur theatre roles behind us, we figured we knew what we were in for.
Participants receive a pack containing the material needed throughout the course ahead of the class. The first workshop is aptly titled, ‘The Icebreaker’ and is all about getting to know the individuals in the class. The session was filled with people from all walks of life, each with a different reason for joining. While some had joined for their love of theatre, others had joined for social reasons – to meet new people, become more confident and to aid their personal development. Of course, there were a few stereotypical theatre types who turned up, ready to take centre stage and recite a monologue at any moment, but it’s fascinating to watch and more importantly, fun.
We somehow managed to start at session two, which is an introduction to spontaneous improvisation and its application in theatre. It must be said that standing in a circle with seven or so other adults, hands outstretched yelling unusual sounds can be quite awkward and embarrassing if you’re not used to this kind of behaviour. So for the first five minutes, a few of us were rather timid, but after we warmed up and realised that everyone is there for the same reason, we soon got into the swing of things. The session included group games and exercises aimed to develop our confidence and ability to improvise longer with more complicated scenes. Situations included been given a word such as office and improvising a conversation in pairs using this keyword and seeing where it would take us. While some stories developed into comical pieces, others helped develop our ability to react quickly. Although these may be theatre techniques, it’s easy to apply them to everyday situations, such as public speaking and presentations at work. Perhaps one of the most beneficial elements of the workshop was the feedback we were given on our performance.
Other sessions throughout the course include structured improvisation using theatre practitioner Michael Chekhov’s exercises, script work and stage craft, one-on-one rehearsals for the final performance and a dress rehearsal that culminates with the final show. This gives you the chance to exhibit your talent and show off your hard work.
Budding actors and those who simply want to try something new should get involved. Break a leg! Dhs1,800 (basic package); Dhs2,500 (audition package); Dhs3,500 (professional package). October 11 to November 27. Saturdays 3pm-5pm; Sundays 7.30pm-9.30pm. The Courtyard Playhouse, Al Quoz, (050 986 1761).
Embrace the extrovert in you at three more clubs
Backstage Dubai This community theatre group covers acting, directing and playwriting. Dhs100 annual membership. www.backstagedubai.com.
Danú Dubai Theatre Group With up to three shows each year, the group’s past plays have had an Irish theme. Free membership. www.facebook.com/danudubai.
Dubai Drama Group The group do a number of productions each year, and have social events at least once a month. Dhs100 yearly membership. www.dubaidramagroup.com.