Don Quixote on a Shoe String, World-Famous Hidalgo Hits Tumanishvili Stage

The Tumanishvili Film Actors’ Theater recently staged the premiere of the immortal Don Quixote. The actors? Puppets!

Alonso Quixana is an elderly gentleman who lives in La Mancha, in the Spanish countryside. He has read many books of chivalry. He loses his wits and decides to roam the country as a knight-errant named Don Quixote de La Mancha. Neither his niece nor his housekeeper can stop him from riding his old horse, Rocinante, out into the country. Sancho Panza, a common peasant, his faithful servant, joins him on the journey, quickly realizing that his master is mad, but hoping that Quixote will make good on his promise to name Sancho the Governor of an island. Quixote attacks a windmill, believing it to be a giant, destroying his lance in the process. Indeed, Quixote gets involved in several altercations and violent disputes while on the road.

The Tumanishvili puppet version of the classic performance is fascinating in both form and management. Among the ‘actors,’ are just two puppet theater professional actors, while the rest of eight-person team comprises a diplomat, a drama theater actor, a psychologist, and others, all united around one and the same idea of the epochal book. Unlike in other puppet theaters, the actors here are visible to the audience, performing together with the marionettes.

At the beginning of this performance, well-known introductory music can be heard- a tribute to the old Georgian staging of ‘Don Quixote,’ a revolution in its time in Georgia’s theatrical space and starring the late great Otar Meghvinetukhutsesi.

The magic of painter Nino Kitia made it possible to fit the giant classical masterpiece into the tiny modern theatrical space and the puppets alone are worth seeing- and even if you don’t speak Georgian, the music and painting will offer you enough story-telling, even more so that the plot is well-known to most.

“A woman is a man’s heart,” is heard, an idea that at first seems like old-fashioned romanticism but what else can fashion do with eternal values? Don Quixote, commonly considered as insane, seems to be much saner than the cold world in which violence, fear, poverty and torture reign. “If humans can find a small piece of light against the hopelessness and wickedness, then life would not be a mere endurance,” the main hero repeats again and again.

GEORGIA TODAY spoke to young director Giorgi Apkhazava after the performance. “Sadly, live Don Quixotes are lacking nowadays, which is why I decided to stage this classic with puppets,” he said. “I’m sure that in all epochs there were such blank spaces, empty of idealists. There were many cases when Georgia had very clever ‘uncles’, full of common sense, but there has been a long absence of such kinds of crazy people who desperately struggle for kindness. It took hard work and one-and-a-half years to turn the two-volume novel into a short theatrical performance but we did it and the results can well be seen today!”

From September, the new season will be launched and Don Quixote is set to remain an inseparable part of the Tumanishvili Theater repertoire.

Maka Lomadze

07 July 2016 20:22