Tsk tsk tsk. Over a month without an update. Terrible of me, really. But there’s sometimes a distinction to be made between writing and doing – and the past month has been all about the Doing. First there was the Abu Dhabi Film Festival – which I covered for GN (over at hishamwyne.com). Then worked with the awesome gals at Art in the City for Abu Dhabi Art. From there, rolled right into DIPAF – the Dubai International Performing Arts Festival where I did my first stand up comedy gig and poetry in Urdu the next day. All this merits a blog post of its own – and this will happen. I just need to start stealing pictures from miscellaneous FB profiles for that one. But in the meantime, here’s an article I wrote on the arts scene in Barsha.
Let’s assume for a second that you’re homing in on Barsha on the back of a giant bird. From afar, you see a cross-section of living and shopping spaces, with apartments and villas rubbing corners with little shops, restaurants, and hypermarkets. The Mall of the Emirates, with its protruding ski slope, slides into view as retail lynchpin.
Hover a bit closer and you realize Barsha is a community humming and bustling in its own right. People mill around, cars honk and there are the inevitable traffic jams. From your perch in the sky, you linger over busy street corners. Just a few turns away, villas sit slouching in the very epitome of languor.
As a strictly amateur thespian, comedian, and general noisemaker, I find the arts scene in Barsha figuring ever more prominently within my schedule. And that’s largely due to two enterprises: DUCTAC and the Jam Jar.
Nestled in the Mall of the Emirates, the DUCTAC theatre is home to an artsy generality of people of all ages – some as tiny as kneecap-biting five or six. It offers lessons in music, comedy, tap dance, improv, writing and Arabic, and there is theatre space for all manner of performances. From little girls dressed in pink tutus to people carrying a menacing array of props and scripts, DUCTAC is home for everyone with even a fibre of interest in the arts. Within DUCTAC operate the indomitable duo of Ali Al Sayed and Mina Liccione, the founders of Dubomedy. Mina is an ex-Broadway tap queen and comedienne, and Ali a world-class purveyor of comedy in his own right. I’m currently dabbling in stand-up comedy classes with them, and thoroughly enjoying the bonhomie and camaraderie.
Then, if you were to gain some altitude, and look across to the other side of the Umm Suqeim road dividing Barsha from Al Quoz, you would see the Jam Jar hidden between rows of identical warehouses. Technically, it’s on the wrong side of the street to be considered Barsha. But its influence and proximity means it deserves honorary mention.
One of the true pioneers of Dubai’s homegrown arts scene, it caters to a wide variety of events- musical performances, theatre, and arts exhibitions. It’s a communal space that’s easily accessible, and the all-girl team is genuinely enthusiastic about arts and culture. The Jam Jar, in some manner or other, has been involved with many of the seminal arts and culture events in Dubai and even Abu Dhabi. I have memories of several happy evenings and afternoons there.
Between the Jam Jar and DUCTAC, Barsha’s denizens can rest assured there will always be artsy endeavors to soothe the soul.