Finally, on my third attempt, I was able to attend a marionette theatre show at the famed Gabziadze Theatre in Tbilisi, Georgia. The other two times I was there I found myself shut-out because of a sell-out. The theatre is a quaint place which seeps in reverence for the theatrical traditions of the stage. These marionettes are not made for children. They are made with passion and grace for the telling of the human condition in a delightful and creative way.
This theatre is all about Rezo Gabziadze, the founder and visionary of this theatre. He is a playwright and an artist, who is obsessed with detail, whether it be how a marionette is painted or how a scene is brought to life by the talented puppet masters hovering over the stage. The performers are seen in the background, dressed in black, as a way to remind the audience that these stories are not silly little sketches to amuse, but real theatrical entertainment to allow people to think and expand their minds on a delightful evening at the theatre.
I watched Rezo’s show “The Autumn of My Springtime” about a mischievous talking bird who lives on excess and hilariously insults his accusers – especially in the wonderfully funny and poignant trial scene. The whole thing might have been absurd if it wasn’t such an interesting snippet of life – and the bird is perhaps a metaphor for the mind of the lonely wife who loses her husband at the beginning of the show and morns his dearly. I don’t think this is what Rezo was going for, but there’s some literary angles worth exploring there.
And this perhaps illustrates the charm and depth of what Rezo tries to do at this theatre. The passion of the performance oozes through in stark clarity. I couldn’t help but want my own stage and theatre like this – not for puppets necessarily – but a place to bring art and passion and one’s life’s work alive.
Rezo has done this in remarkable ways. If you ever find yourself in Tbilisi, Georgia, you must find your way to this charming theatre. But book early!