Enigma and Visible Variations (Georgian ShowCase Program)

 The Tbilisi International Festival of Theatre revived the silenced halls of the global pandemic and invited the audiences to explore the labyrinths of theatre art. Despite such optimism, the year 2022 turned out to be scarred with tragic news: in June, at the age of 78, the great Georgian director, Temur Chkheidze, passed away.

 He is one of the outstanding directors of our era, who staged more than 80 dramatic plays and operas in Tbilisi, Saint Petersburg, Milan, Paris, Moscow, and New York during his nearly 50-year career. He has received a number of international theatre awards and prizes, the listing of which would take us too far... From 2014 until the end of his life, he supported the Centre for the Development of Modern Theatre Art, which provided young playwrights and directors with an excellent opportunity for professional development.

 In the Georgian ShowCase Program, you will have the pleasure of seeing the director's last work – “Enigma Variations,” written by the famous French playwright Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, which Temur Chkheidze staged for the Marjanishvili Theatre. The director remains faithful to the refined and almost "hand-woven", atmospheric chamber theatre and shares with us a lively narrative enriched by the excellent work of the actors and the psychological undercurrents of their characters, which has been in short supply for a long time (or, as they say, “is no longer in fashion”)... However, what Temur Chkheidze creates in this two-person chamber performance, is an ultimate example of perfectionism in simplicity. So, we recommend not to miss the last "Variation" of the great director.

 The director Levan Tsuladze, together with Temo Kuprava entrusted his concept to the classics. This is a trilogy about violence: Tolstoy's “The Kreutzer Sonata”, Dostoyevsky's “Crime and Punishment”, and Beaumarchais' “The Marriage of Figaro”. The first and second parts of this trilogy play off of each other and present the themes of domestic violence and violence against women in a modern language. After the death of a theatre classic, Rezo Gabriadze, his son, Leo Gabriadze (the Artistic Director of the Marionette Theatre), added layers of irony and sadness to his father’s earlier work "Alfred and Violetta". With this performance, you will experience the renewed breath of magical marionettes.

 Behind the unexpected irony, modern language, and psychology beyond grotesque, the director Davit Doiashvili saw the fastidious and fast-moving forms of modern theatre in Chekhov's "The Seagull" ("New Theater" premiere, June 2022)... Maybe this is what Konstantin Treplev (played by Giviko Baratashvili, a young and already very popular actor) was searching for all along. 

In "Sickness Simulation" (based on Moliere's "The Imaginary Invalid" for the Chiatura Theatre) the director Saba Aslamazishvili tries to confront the imaginary, illusory life of a person with the actual and painful reality. In Strindberg's notorious play "Miss Julie", the director Sofia Qelbaqiani tries to make reality even more painful than illusory life (we should also mention the excellent work of two young actresses, Anastasia Chanturaia and Taki Mumladze).

One way or another, the "Western Front" of the classics is quite popular and variously mastered. Now, regarding modern Georgian playwriting and the trends of performances: we should mention the director Gocha Khvichia's "Marina Revia" (written by Alex Chigvinadze), which was staged at the Cultural Centre of Marneuli, and attracted the attention of critics last year with its directorial work, stage design and powerful acting.

Paata Tsikolia offers us a completely unexpected examination of the myth of Medea and in a play written and staged by himself, he fills the story with a painful and provocative form and content. Performances by Ekaterine Demetradze and Sandro Samkharadze will attract the attention of young viewers.

An important event of the last season was the play "The Autumn of Servants" by Nino Haratischwili, a well-known Georgian writer living in Germany, which she staged at the Royal District Theatre. The abandoned palace after the civil war, and the servants in the atmosphere of this palace evoke parallels with the plays of Jean Genet and Sławomir Mrożek. However, Nino Haratischwili’s desire to expand and enrich the genre, and add tension and social dimension to it is undoubtedly to be appreciated. 

 "Three Plus Three" is a play by Manana Doiashvili, which was staged by the director Ioane Khutsishvili in the renovated Ozurgeti Theatre. The play reflects on the atmosphere of cruelty, love, and loss of human contact in the 90s of the last century. The director seems to have awakened the ghosts of this "traumatised time", whose echoes are necessary to wake us up...

 

The International Festival of 2022 (a total of 36 performances, premieres and special screenings) is to some extent a reminder and reflection on the post-pandemic pains and traumas. First and foremost, the festival is dedicated to the memory of Temur Chkheidze, whose diverse creative oeuvre will become an inspiration for many Georgian directors, playwrights and stage designers to come. 

David Bukhrikidze

 

 

 

 

 

 

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