GIFT Festival Brings International Dramatic Artists to Tbilisi

In the Autumn, Tbilisi’s artistic venues awaken from their summer hibernation and burst into life with a series of theater and arts festivals. The next festival to light up the city will be GIFT –the Georgian International Festival of Arts in Tbilisi.

GIFT was founded in 1997 by the Georgian State, the International Board of Directors, and Keti Dolidze. It was the first international art festival established after Georgian independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. GIFT is held annually and has hosted more than 300 international groups and companies representing the fields of theater, drama, dramaturgy, literature and stage painting in Tbilisi. The festival is named in honor of Mikheil Tumanishvili (1921-1996), famed Georgian theater director and teacher who broke ground with his improvisation techniques. The festival’s stated mission is “to establish and extend cultural bonding worldwide. Despite any vulnerability that might appear in the world, we trust that art is the only language to communicate with different countries and to the world around us. This language is widely spoken and it doesn't hate, but loves.”

International partners are attracted to the festival, say the organizers, because it is “a memorable professional experience with quality international productions, combined with a unique opportunity to explore the rich culture of Georgia.”

The 2018 festival is bringing new and interesting artists to the Georgian stage, with a special focus on Italy and Norway. Within the festival’s ‘Italy: Sardinia Culture Days’ focus section, a version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth will be performed in Sardinian (Macbettu) by the Mediterranean Sardegna Teatro, a performance that was awarded the 2017 National Association of Theater Critics prize and the 2017 Ubu Prize for Show of the Year in Italy; it will be accompanied by the Tenore Murales folk vocal ensemble from Sardinia. Sardinian novelist Marcello Fois will give a reading, and there will also be a lecture on Italian contemporary theater titled Rispondi al Futuro (Reply to the Future).

From Norway, company Winter Guests and Alan Lucien Øyen will present Simulacrum, a Japansese Kabuki-inspired dance and movement performance. Also from Norway, the Danse- og Teatersentrum theater will present a dance-concert fusion called STATE, with extravagant costumes designed by Henrik Vibskov. There will also be a screening of the Georgian documentary "Knut Hamsun's Caucasian Mysteries," exploring the legacy of 19th century Norwegian author Knut Hamsun.

There will be an arts and crafts fair in the evening of October 27, and all day on November 4, at the Rustaveli Theater, celebrating local artists and craftspeople who will display and sell jewelry, beaded glass, fiber and wearable art, paintings, drawings, ceramics, and more.

Performances will be held in various venues across the city – Rustaveli Theater, Marjanishvili Theater, Royal District Theater, the National Parliamentary Library, and Amirani Cinema are all hosting events.

The 2018 GIFT festival will take place from October 18-November 16. For a full schedule of events, see the GIFT Facebook page. Tickets are on sale now at

GEORGIA TODAY is an official media partner of the GIFT festival.

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: GIFT Festival, Facebook (Henrik Vibskov)


11 October 2018 17:15