Independent theatre pioneer, Tiffany Schultz, on the Dubai drama scene
Dubai Opera may be shiny and new, but there’s far more to the emirate’s theatre scene. The Courtyard Playhouse first opened in 2013, and though it’s small, its contribution to the local theatrics has been anything but.
Tiffany Schultz, one of the theatre’s founders, had been living in Dubai since 2007 and was running a drama group with her husband, Kemsley Dickinson, when they decided to set up their own playhouse.
“It was back in the day when there were very few theatre [classes] for adults,” Schultz explains. Their classes filled up quickly, and they began searching for a venue where they could put down permanent roots and create a community.”
The Courtyard building is one of the oldest in Al Quoz, and Shultz and her husband mucked in to build much of it themselves.
“There are a few multipurpose theatres in Dubai – galleries and performance spaces that are empty and white – but we wanted a dedicated space,” says Schultz. “We wanted something that had character.”
And so The Courtyard Playhouse was born. Schultz and Dickinson have since gone from having five people in a class to struggling to cope with the demand for workshops, and have branched out to offer a monthly calendar of events, shows and screenings.
From screening the Met Opera all the way from New York City, to National Theatre plays from London (this month, watch Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead starring Daniel Radcliffe, next month it’s Jude Law in Obsession) to staging plays by local theatre groups, the Courtyard remains eager to establish itself as a passionate hub of theatrical arts. It’s also dedicated to improvisation and runs workshops three times a week. “The only way to really learn theatre is to actually do it,” says Schultz. “So people who participate in the workshops get invited to showcase.”
It’s a genuinely supportive and enthusiastic community. And that’s what sets it apart from the rest. “I think when people come to Dubai, they miss the places they can go to and feel like, ‘Hey, this is a cool place [and] the people are friendly and passionate about the subject. We wanted to create it for ourselves.” The Courtyard, Al Quoz, www.courtyardplayhouse.com (050 986 1761).
Don't miss Upcoming events at The Courtyard Playhouse
Black Light These nine short, absurd and darkly comic plays from Dubai Drama Group promise to be seriously entertaining and completely unexpected. Free (guestlist reservation essential). Over 16s only. Times vary. Until May 20.
National Theatre Live Daniel Radcliffe, Joshua McGuire and David Haig star in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead – a comic spin-off of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Free (guestlist reservation essential). May 25-27, 8pm-11pm.
Speechless Improvisers are given a theme and a Powerpoint full of unseen slides that they must present to the audience on the spot. Hilarity obviously ensues. Free (guestlist reservation essential). Mon Jun 5, 8pm-10pm.
This is Impro Featuring the most experienced improvisers at the Playhouse, the group must spontaneously devise a narrative from titles provided by the audience. Free (guestlist reservation essential). Mon May 29, 8pm-10pm.