Theatre director and acting instructor Sol Abaid
With six two-hour sessions, here's your chance to become a pro in acting
In the spring of 2019, Sol Abiad, a veteran theatre director and instructor (right), was working on a devised theatre concept at Sorbonne University that could relate to Expo 2020.
"I was looking for 'past visions of the future'. While I was working on my lesson plan, I picked out a few pieces from classical and ancient literature on which students could base their theatrical compositions. I chose satires as this genre can incorporate aspects of sci-fi before it came into our vocabulary; these ancient satires share the flavour of cautionary tales found in sci-fi."
Things didn't go as planned with Covid-19 relegating most workshops to the backseat. "2020 is also the year of the 10th anniversary of my founding of Start Too - Dubai's first experimental theatre project. I was hoping to bring the "past visions of the future" concept to the wider community by running workshops to devise an original performance with Start Too. And the world suddenly ground to a halt," said Sol. "As someone with a love-hate relationship with technology, I had to rethink the project. It turned out that adapting to online work meant that I could reconnect with past collaborators now scattered around the world. I narrowed down workshop content to one author, Lucian of Samosata, who wrote Trips to the Moon - the earliest proto-sci-fi on record - in the second century and lived where Syria is today. The experiment became one on remote collaborative creation," she said.
With Dubai back to the new normal, a two-week acting course has been initiated by Sol from July 12 on this concept to help enthusiasts hone their skills. "Improvisation, voice control, movement, character development are all part of this three-week intense sessions. How does a physical theatre collective work together to devise a performance? We had to stretch our imagination. We had to envision ourselves in an empty warehouse space and what we would need. We opted to think around the invention of abstract objects using simple base material as we always have such as cloth or dome lobster cages. This could anchor our narratives. From design could spring story and theme," she said.
"After an invigorating month or so with some wonderful people who eased any pain of confinement, we are letting the ideas stew in a more relaxed way. There's seldom wisdom in racing for the gold and now that long-term planning is iffy, we will keep the spirit alive calmly and steadily. In the meantime and to great relief, the beautiful theatre at Mall of the Emirates is slowly reopening. Cautiously, with masks and safety measures, we will take baby steps back to the magical playing space that is theatre," she added.
The two-week acting workshop headed by Sol will be held on Sundays and Wednesdays from 6pm to 8pm at Mall of the Emirates.