BWW Interviews: Paata Tsikurishvili - Synetic Theater to Make International Debut in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
Washington, DC’s own Synetic Theater has been invited by the Rustaveli Theatre in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia to perform two of its works that received critical and audience acclaim in our area – Host and Guest and Shakespeare’s King Lear – from November 3 – 10, 2012. King Lear is one of the company’s many successful wordless Shakespeare productions. Host in Guest, which was presented in 2008 during the Georgian-Russian conflict, is based on Vazha Pshavela’s epic poem that chronicles the friendship of a Muslim and a Christian during wartime much to the chagrin of their respective communities. They are ideal selections to strengthen the already crucial Georgian – American friendship.
This tour, which is supported by the US Department of State, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding, will allow Synetic Founder/Artistic Director Paata Tsikurishvili and his wife, Founder/Resident Choreographer (and Helen Hayes award-winning actress) Irina Tsikurishvilli, to return to their native country with other members of the company to share their unique brand of intense, physical theater with their fellow countrymen.
I’ve long been a fan of Synetic and it’s great to see it expand its international presence after successful productions in our area and around the country. Host and Guest, in particular, counts as one of my favorite theatrical experiences in the last decade, so I am very excited to see it presented where its source material originated. The depth to which both of these pieces innovatively explore human emotions, and the human condition more generally, is astounding. They represent theatricality at its finest.
Paata Tsikurishvili was kind enough to answer several questions from BroadwayWorld about this upcoming tour. The questions and answers appear in full below.
Jennifer Perry (JP): Out of all of the diverse works that Synetic has shared with Washington, DC audiences, what made you select Host and Guest and King Lear in particular to share with the audiences in Tbilisi?
Paata Tsikurishvili (PT): It wasn’t easy to choose two productions out of the sixty we have presented, but I think Host and Guest is a natural selection to bring to Tbilisi. I want Georgians to experience the American interpretation of Host and Guest with American performers and in English. I believe it is a perfect fit for the Tbilisi audience. King Lear is one of most successful wordless Shakespeare plays I’ve directed so far. It is unlike any ‘Lear’ Georgians have seen before. It’s very original, monumental, visually stunning, and physically, almost impossible. It’s also emotionally strong and very clever. Shakespeare is very popular in Georgia and I think ‘Lear’ is a great choice to introduce wordless Shakespeare to Georgian audiences.
JP: As the first American company to present a show in the Republic of Georgia, what do you hope to achieve?
PT: Well, I do understand that Irina and I are symbols of the Georgian – American friendship. As the first professional American theater company to perform in Georgia, I do hope to lay the foundation for future tours and cultural exchanges. I want Georgians to know more about American theater and the culture itself.
JP: The Republic of Georgia has a strong theater tradition. How is the "Synetic style" different from or similar to the styles that are prevalent in Georgian theater today?
PT: Synetic is an American theater company and even though Irina and I come from the Georgian theater tradition there is nothing like Synetic in the country. There is no hybrid theater in Tbilisi. Synetic was born, and became what it is, here in America. Today, Synetic is an American physical theater unlike any other physical theater around the globe.
JP: Synetic productions have been presented throughout the United States, but this is the first time one of your works is being presented on an international stage. If this tour is successful, are additional overseas productions a possibility?
Synetic Theater Production of "King Lear" (Photo Credit: Graeme B. Shaw)
Synetic Theater Production of "Host and Guest" (Photo Credit: Raymond Gniewek)