Driver by day, banker on stage: Workers star in Dubai play
Dubai - Shamsudheen is a member of Al Quoz Theatre, which was formed at the recreation hall of a workers' accommodation in late 2014.
On any other day, Shamsudheen can be seen driving around Dubai delivering building materials for his company. But on Friday evening, he was a banker - for a drama titled The Bet by Anton Chekov, directed by Ajay Annoor.
Shamsudheen is a member of Al Quoz Theatre, which was formed at the recreation hall of a workers' accommodation in late 2014.
Ajay Annoor, co-founder of the drama club and director of The Bet, had been a drama artist since school days. "I developed an interest in theatre from my father who is a professional theatre artist, and I have been on stage since I was in Grade 4. After moving to the UAE 15 years ago, life had been more career-oriented and theatre took a back seat," said Ajay, who works in the Jebel Ali Free Zone as a sales engineer.
"Al Quoz Theatre had 10 members in the initial stage, and most of them had never performed. The ice-breaking took lots of practice and patience. We are steadily growing, and now our number is over 20."
Nagarjun Shakthi, who co-founded the troupe, said most of their members got exposure to performing arts only after joining the club. The members come from different professions but majority of them are workers or technicians.
"Everyone here is passionate about theatre and wanted a break from their monotonous lifestyle. Long hours of work followed by rehearsal and lack of sleep was never a reason to skip the call of theatre," he said.
The play, which took place at The Junction at Al Serkal Avenue, was dear to the performers, also because they themselves made the props for the play.
"Most of the things used in our play were made by us. The clarinet is the only thing we bought. We try to reduce the costs as much as we can because our plays are self-financed. The love we have for the art form will take us forward," said Sudeesh, the lead cast of The Bet who works as a supervisor in a construction company.
While only a few stages had been made available to this group, audience feedback has been positive, giving them the faith to keep going.
"Most drama clubs bring professional directors from abroad to do a play. I wanted a home-grown group to express their emotions. To be able to stage it in a venue like Al Serkal, the art house of Dubai, is a dream come true," Ajay said before the play on Friday.
"Our plan is to create artists who believe in the power of expressing their own thoughts. I hope our humble initiative will grow stronger and the amateur artists of today will be the most sought-after professional artists of tomorrow," concluded a hopeful Ajay.