Dubai Drama Group’s “Faith Healer” monologues intrigued me ahead of premiere

{Thank you to the Chairman of Dubai Drama Group and the cast of “Faith Healer” for chatting with #nikitalyfe at your final tech rehearsal!}

I’m putting all my heavily-behind-on-Game-of-Thrones-spoiler-avoiding skills towards not reading any plot twists of Dubai Drama Group (DDG)’s “Faith Healer.” The three-person show will be running from this Thursday, June 20th to June 27th at the Courtyard Playhouse in Dubai. I’m thrilled to kickstart the theatre season back up after Ramadan and Eid!

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PC: Dubai Drama Group (Steve Wyatt | Ciaran Mulhern | Aileen Kelly)

“Faith Healer” is rather unusual in its format. Celebrated Irish playwright Brian Friel’s production is stylized in a series of four monologues from three characters’ perspectives to tell the extraordinary story of Francis Hardy (played by Ciaran Mulhern), who’s gifted with the powers to heal others, yet is unable to save himself.

“This is an amazing production! It’s so exciting to be in the premiere of”Faith Healer” in Dubai – that’s something special,” said Aileen Kelly, whose Irish accent immediately transports you to Friel’s world for Grace, Francis’ down-trodden wife. Combining her strong patriotism and love for the playwright, she bestows upon him the title: “the Shakespeare of Ireland”— making me even more excited to see his works brought to life on stage.

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PC: Dubai Drama Group (Aileen Kelly as Grace)

DDG and the Courtyard Playhouse were kind enough to invite me for a behind-the-scenes (see The Lion in Winter and Suspended in Motion) chat with the cast, Steve Wyatt, Aileen Kelly, Ciaran Mulhern and Jonathan Siklos, the Chairman of DDG during their final tech and dress rehearsal. Keep reading #nikitalyfe for what they had to say about the production!

Steve Wyatt, who plays Francis’ manager, Teddy, was thrilled to get “under the skin” of his character from the very get-go. With such a captivating, charismatic persona, Teddy’s passionate description and showmanship in his monologue brings the audience right into the heart of the show.

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PC: Dubai Drama Group (Steve Wyatt as Teddy)

“Brian Friel is one of the greatest Irish playwrights,” continues Steve. “He does a great job of messing with the audience’s mind and leaving them with a question.” In a show of three characters, I’m curious who’s side I’ll end up on and how each monologue weaves an intricate web of lies, truths, and deceptions.

DDG believe that Dubai audiences are ready for a complicated and artistic stage. Aileen Kelly explains how the world wasn’t ready for “Faith Healer,” when it first launched in 1979, “If you watch [other performances’] interviews, directors will say that the reason “Faith Healer” didn’t take off on Broadway was because it was too far ahead of its times.” Describing the play further, Kelly explains, “It’s got some funny bits, it’s dark, sad…it shows the different sides of being human,” something DDG knows their multicultural audience can appreciate.

Aileen and Nikita
Aileen and Nikita chat for a #nikitalyfe theatre behind-the-scenes!

“Plays come to us by different means,” explained Jonathan Siklos, Chairman of DDG when I asked how the production house selects their plays. The committee finds some of themselves and they say “we should do this!” and then decides whether they “should do it” and lastly, whether they could do it . In the case of “Faith Healer,” Aileen brought the play to their attention about eight months ago, and was luckily a perfect fit for the role of Grace.

The diligent and detailed effort of creating an immersive, clever and challenging compilation of four 45-minute monologues requires true brilliance on Brian Friel and DDG’s part. Steve suggests we “be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotional attachment and detachment to the characters. Your mind will feel differently about the characters as the others deliver their stories.”

Steve and Nikita
Nikita and Steve pose at the Courtyard Playhouse just days before “Faith Healer’s” Opening Night

For most people the idea of giving a 45-minute monologue could be the stuff of nightmares! I asked Jonathan how he feels about DDG taking on the challenge: “It makes me nervous just thinking about it,” confessed Jonathan. “These monologues are monumental. They’re on stage by themselves. The set is evocative but pretty bare — there’s absolutely no hiding.”

Ciaran Mulhern, who plays Francis,  found it easier than he initially anticipated. “Lines are the key. Once they’re learned they can be played with, and new, fresh meaning can be teased out in every performance.” Ciaran feels the silver lining in monologues is having control of the pace, but recognizes that he only has himself to save him if he makes a mistake.

Jonathan Siklos and Nikita
It was great to hear Jonathan Siklos, Chairman of DDG’s thoughts on their upcoming production, “Faith Healer”! 

“When you’re doing long monologues, they’re never going to be exactly the same,” agrees Aileen. “The actors will play off of the audience. Steve and Ciaran are fabulous actors, they can suck an audience in. It’s one of those plays where you’ll be completely engrossed by the facets of these characters: their lies and complete honesty.”

Ciaran also turns to his cast-mates for support. “I remind myself that I’m not alone, not really. Aileen and Steve‘s monologues create the full picture and I think the audience will really enjoy how each monologue strips the characters both intentionally and unintentionally.”

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I can’t wait to see how this all plays out tomorrow night! Join me, Devina and other Dubai theatre (and monologue!) lovers at the Courtyard Playhouse. RSVP to register your attendance at courtyardplayhouse.com/events. Showtimes are from June 20 to June 27th 2019.

  • Thursday June 20: 8PM
  • Saturday June 22: 4PM and 8PM
  • Tuesday June 25: 8PM
  • Thursday June 27: 8PM

Until next time, keep exploring! 🙂 xoxo #nikitalyfe. If you enjoyed this read, follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe | Get the blogs straight to your inbox by signing up below!

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PC: Dubai Drama Group (Aileen|Ciaran|Steve)

 

Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

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