Theatre can have a remarkable effect on people. For anyone who’s ever seen a play or musical and is still pondering it days later, questioning the message or plot, it can be a profound experience and at times audiences just want more.
One work in particular that has had a powerful impact on Dubai’s theatregoers is I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother.
Originally performed back in October at Ductac, to a sell-out crowd who had snapped up tickets before it opened, the Palestinian production by Irish drama group Danú Dubai is now back by popular demand for a second run on Friday January 15 and Saturday 16 at The Junction in Alserkal Avenue.
With an Arab cast including Palestinian actors from Gaza and the West Bank in the leading roles, alongside Emiratis in other parts, the play marks the group’s first venture into an increasingly popular style of theatre in the region, dealing with the politics and tales of displaced people searching for a home to call their own.
Set in the tiny Palestinian village of Baissamoon in 1948, the piece uses those tumultuous times, when the British mandate ended and violence and bloodshed loomed in the “Transjordan” region, as a backdrop to the story of two brothers – Ali and his “simpleton” sibling Yusuf.
Amid the turmoil, Ali has fallen madly in love with Nada. However, his affection is seemingly doomed as Nada’s father is determined to block their marriage for fear of Yusuf’s “simple” genes being passed down.
Although set within a politically charged context, the piece, penned by young Palestinian playwright Amir Nizar Zuabi, deals with the human element of such disarray but remains culturally and politically sensitive.
“This play is for ordinary people; for the people who are caught up in unjust violence and wars which they have nothing to do with,” says Downey. “For people without a voice. For the dispossessed and the oppressed. For people who suffer in silence each and every day.”
The play, which is part of a season of three productions exploring the weight and imposition of history, to honour 100 years of Ireland’s independence in April, explores humanity and love in the context of loss and death during war.
“This play is not about hate. It’s about understanding,” explains Downey. “We make theatre from nothing, and theatre does not change the world, but it may change people.
“This play may only be a small pebble in an ocean, but it can travel and it can ripple.”
Dhs100. 8pm. January 15-16. The Junction, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz (055 686 3727).