Chekhov’s Three Sisters: A Bitter-Sweet Choreo-Drama on the Georgian Stage

Foreigners are fully entitled to love theater, but because of the language barrier, cannot indulge themselves in Georgia much in this regard. Fortunately, there is now a space for them: the Music & Drama State Theater offering the choreo-drama The Three Sisters according to Chekhov, in one act.

Solitude, not isolation from society, but existing in it and still being alone…Thinking that you were perhaps born in the wrong time, wrong place and wrong environment…Dreaming and hoping that there is a “Moscow” somewhere out there, where you can find your deserved place in society…completely ignoring the possibility that this “Moscow” can be so close, among those with whom you feel so alone.

Anton Chekhov is thought to be a magician of dramaturgy. Expressing feelings and thoughts by discovering and using extremely precise words and phrases is the main key to his magic.

“Each choreo-drama is interesting and requires more responsibility because in this case, we, actors, do not speak the same text that was written by the author, but convey it through gestures instead,” said actor Achiko Sologhashvili, who plays the role of the Staff Captain Vassily Vasilyevich Solyony. “If the gesture is not exact, you can totally change the essence of a character and the whole performance, too. And we can’t anticipate how the public will receive it. It’s dangerous when a spectator has not read the play, even one so famous as “The Three Sisters”. But we keep all kinds of spectators in mind, aiming to bring every detail and nuance to light for them.”

Eka Demetradze is one of those doubles who plays Natasha, a lover and, later, wife of Andrei Prozorov, the three sisters’ brother: “It was extremely interesting as this is a totally different genre for me. The mere task of conveying the drama via physics, even more so that we are not professional dancers, is a new type of challenge. One has to retell the traits of a character through gestures and mimics. I aimed to make a synchrony between the physical movements and Natasha’s inner world.”

Konstantin Purtseladze is a choreographer who would never have staged this but for Davit Doiashvili, the artistic director of the theater, who insisted on it. “After Oscar Wilde’s ‘Salome’ and ‘Carmen,’ this is the third play I’ve staged as a choreographic drama.” He says the working process itself was not so difficult as the actors used to be his students. “Of course, there were other kinds of difficulties. This is Chekhov, where the text matters very much. The main challenge was to transform the words into movement. I believe that it has proved intelligible, as at every festival we take it to, it is seen as a play. People were telling me: ‘Have you gone nuts? How can you stage Chekhov wordlessly?’ Another challenge was that, according to Chekhov, all the culmination actions occur in the backstage – the fire, the duel, Masha’s love scene with a lover, etc. We had to imagine how these scenes could happen and play them on stage,” Purtseladze told GEORGIA TODAY.

The director listened to many pieces of music before choosing Alfred Schnittke, which very harmoniously fits in with the visual sublimity and transparency of the whole facture. The performance is as light as Chekhov, who tells of tragedies so easily that sometimes it is difficult to understand the bitterness. The music itself, just like the play and life, is bitter-sweet.

“I plan to maintain this direction, as I like this genre very much, which is neither a ballet, a pantomime, nor mere dancing. This is story-telling in motion. I think it is the most topical in the world because it implies no language barrier. This is still a novelty for Georgia and our art critics are sometimes reluctant to write anything,” Purtseladze confides.

The Three Sisters was staged in 2015 and premiered at the Tbilisi International Theater Festival. In 2016, it won the grand-prix at the international festivals in Romania and Turkey. “When we showed this performance to an international jury at the Tbilisi Festival, it provoked a shower of business cards from producers. They had no idea that we could retell Chekhov wordlessly, via plastics, in an hour. They began inviting me to different festivals. I was a little bit embarrassed,” the choreographer recalls.

To see the trailer, go to this link:

Maka Lomadze

09 February 2017 21:15