Dubai: Theatre stalwarts say they are deeply pained by the closure of the landmark Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre (DUCTAC) at the Mall of the Emirates.
The pioneering arts and cultural centre, which was set up by the community in Dubai in 2006, shut down on June 30, 2018, even as it announced plans to relocate to the Mirdif City Centre in September 2018.
But the theatre community is yet to come to terms with the development.
It feels as if theatre here is moving backwards.”
- ALEX BROUN, PLAYWRIGHT, SCREENWRITER
“It is a tragedy,” said Brian Wilkie who founded DUCTAC. “When DUCTAC was set up in 2006, we thought it would be permanent. The community rallied round the cause and raised funds. I even ran the London Marathon to help set up the theatre. But all that has gone in vain now.”
Wilkie said DUCTAC nurtured artistic talent in an irreplaceable manner.
“It had two purpose-built theatres with a capacity to seat 543 and 190 people, a dedicated art gallery, rehearsal and dance studios and rooms for various classes and workshops. It was a place where children and parents from different nationalities came together as they pursued different activities. The centre has hosted some of the finest performances in the UAE over the years.”
The community raised funds to set up DUCTAC.”
-BRIAN WILKIE, DUCTAC FOUNDER
Screenwright and playwriter Alex Broun said he will always cherish the performances held here.
“I still recollect the buzz when the Prithvi Theatre of India performed at DUCTAC. Another highlight was the staging of Romeo and Juliet by Liz Hadaway to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare.” Broun said the theatre infrastructure for a city of three million people had suddenly shrunk. “It feels as if theatre here is moving backwards. The only theatre space available to the community now is The Junction which has a seating capacity of 160. There’s Madinat Jumeirah but that’s more for shows and concerts. Of course, we have the Dubai Opera too, but that may not be within everyone’s reach.”
DUCTAC symbolised the life of theatre in Dubai.”
- REHAN KHAN, BAZM-E-URDU FOUNDER
Dubai Drama Group head Jonathan Siklos said, “DDG, which was set up in 1984, is the oldest theatre company in the UAE. DUCTAC was very close to our heart and an unofficial home almost during this journey – we must have put up around 30 shows at the Kilachand theatre. We are sad and disappointed that it had to be shut down.”
Rehan Khan of Bazm-E-Urdu, said, “This is a sad day for Dubai. On the one hand, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to cultural events. On the other, something like DUCTAC closes it doors. It stood for so many things – it symbolised the life of theatre in Dubai. I have seen so many plays here.”
Memories people made were about what they did, not where.”
- PENNY MACKENZIE, DIRECTOR
Director Penny Mackenzie said, “DUCTAC as a venue did not treat people like a community. The memories that people made at DUCTAC were about what they did, not where they did it.”