Audiences Revel in Orwell-Inspired Production at the Iron Theatre

There are many theatres in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, but if you wish to find something new with minimalistic design and a movable ceiling, sit on flat, unique wooden, listen to an eclectic musical soundtrack, directed by an experienced theatre director, open to discovering the world anew, experimenting and focusing on vigorous energy of the youth, then there is hardly a better place than Iron Theatre on Budapest Street. Georgia Today recently attended Farm, based on George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm. It coincided with the Iron Theatre celebrating its first year in operation.

English subtitles are made available whenever a visitors makes a request in advance by calling 592120815. For this performance we asked two couples (both Georgian wife and English husband in composition) in the audience for their opinion on the performance.

Michael Vickers is a professor of archaeology at Oxford who claimed not to be aware of Orwell-based productions being commonly staged in the UK. “I have read Animal Farm of course. I think everyone has had good fun and enjoyed the show tonight. The acting was very good indeed. I think the horse [played by Tornike Chekurishvili] was especially impressive. It reminds me of a similar place in Oxford, namely, the North Wall Theatre. The politics came through very well. I am writing a book about Aristophanes and it was always a big problem working out how birds would be represented on stage in Aristophanes’ day. I had some insights today. It was very instructive,” said Professor Vickers, and his spouse added that he examines how politics is reflected on theatre and that this was performance was an example of how art can retell a political situation.

As most readers will know, Orwell’s Animal Farm is a satire of Stalinism. Now, in a different period and political context, the director Davit Andghuladze uses the book to convey his own attitude and correlation of art and politics today.

David Richard, the other Englishman in attendance, gave his view on the evening and reserved special praise for the venue: “What makes it more than anything, is the place [theatre] itself – it is like a farm. The sounds were so good. The director’s work is very clever. I hope that we have much more of this to come.”

Maia Sharashidze, David’s Georgian wife living in the UK added: “I have seen the performance three times. Every time, the performance is enriched by new flavors and colors. The actors are really excellent. Less is more – the style of the design – fits this theatre very well. We feel at home here.”

The performance lasts for 70 minutes, giving it ample intensity. A gripping tempo and vigor is maintained for the duration without any slowing down. I would particularly point out Ana Kaulashvili in the part of the lone hen whose each and every movements and sounds are so close to the bird’s it is an entirely believable show.

Andguladze, director of the performance and the founder of the Iron Theatre noted: “It is often written in the preface of Animal Farm that it was as important event in world literature. In his day, by writing this book, George Orwell wrote of what concerned him most of all. Our theatre took it as a motif – a form of the animals’ world – but with different messages.”

Nodar Simsive plays three parts in the production, one human and two animals (hen and cat) and he added: “We were Davit Andguladze’s students. We have been studying and working together since our first year. We performed in different premises before the theatre was open last year. Since then, we have staged Completely Other Opera, based on Berthold Brecht’s Three-penny Opera, and Farm and we were given complete creative freedom from the director. We learnt a lot. In the Opera I play the part of a woman, which was hard, and now I play animals which is harder still. There is no bigger happiness for young actors like us than to learn and acquire such experience and skill.”

The Theatre will stage Completely Other Opera on June 13 after which it bids goodbye until October when they will present the premiere of “Samanishvili’s Stepmother”, a short story by Georgian writer Davit Kldiashvili.

Maka Lomadze

11 June 2015 21:41