The life and times of Dubai expats takes centre stage
- "Just Like that" returns to the stages of The Junction from April 18 to 20, 2019
- The play, on it's second innings in Dubai, takes inspiration from the lives of the emirate's expats
- Tickets, priced at Dh100, are available online
- The cast includes Imah Dumagay, Eric Drury, Christina Papachristou, Asad Raza Khan, Layla Kardan, Medhat Mustafa and Suraj Sadeesh
As far as a play goes, JLT – or ‘Just Like That’ – is pretty different than the run-of-the-mill Shakesperean plays most production houses would opt to put on. This play, first performed in 2018, is set in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers, is inspired by the multicultural experiences of the emirate’s many expats.
Seen through the eyes of an Emirati writer, a British businessman, a European entrepreneur, a Lebanese air hostess, an Indian security guard and an ethnically ambiguous investment banker, JLT is set in the kind of apartment building that will be instantly familiar to residents of Dubai.
The production – put on by Tall Tale Productions – was a huge hit last time around. According to actor, writer and producer Asad Raza Khan, it was one of the most well received plays that they’ve ever staged.
“Perhaps the fact that it was a local Dubai story just brought it home. People came up to us and said that they felt it was their lives on stage and relatable to all,” he said. “Living in JLT is just a setting, and the issues touched upon are those which are common to anyone living in this city. Being a comedy, it just makes sure you are engaged and have a good time throughout the course of the play.”
One of the most important messages of the play, he added, is that people from around the world should come together to promote tolerance and peace at a time when many are suffering from the ills of a complicated political climate in the region. This message, of course, is also that that the UAE is sending throughout 2019, the Year of Tolerance.
“We live in a time where people are busy focusing on things that divide, rather than [those that] unite. We have many different kinds of people all across the world, but it is possible to live together,” he said. “Dubai is a great example of how to do so. This initiative (the Year of Tolerance) should be followed by many countries across the world.”
The play uses the melting pot of cultures, nationalities and families living side-by-side in JLT to highlight how such an environment can promote love, mutual respect and happiness.
When it comes to the local art scene, however, Khan said that the UAE still has a long way to go.
“The first run of the play was very well received and multiple venues wanted to stage us. It is just getting word across to newer audiences to grow the art scene. It has grown significantly in the last five years but we still have a long way to go to match up to the likes of UK and USA,” he said. “For that we need a new audience to come and support us, both residents and tourists.”
“The key is getting the message across and tapping into these new audiences,” he added. “Once it gets to a significant level, then it will take a life of its own and produce better content, more stars, and perhaps even become home to the worlds best.”
In the meantime, Khan is content with using JLT to shed a spotlight on why he and so many others love calling Dubai home.
“The characters and the script weave together a story of diversity, and celebrates the tolerance and togetherness that makes Dubai what it is.”
"Just Like that" returns to the stages of The Junction from April 18 to 20, 2019.