Theater, As a Platform for Manifest

The Royal District Theater is located in Old Tbilisi, near Freedom Square. This theater is a working space for Data Tavadze that, in his words, offers all the right conditions for social expression. Data’s performances, as critics often praise, are ‘bold shows’ many of which have already received prestigious awards and international acclaim. The expressive play ‘The Trojan Women’ was a loud success at the European Festival of young directors Fast Forward not long ago, and was nominated as the best among productions from nine countries in Braunschweig, Germany. In the near future, Data Tavadze’s new play ‘Prometheus/25 years of Liberty’ will be presented in the scopes of the ETC festival in Karlsruhe.

DATA, YOU MORE SUPPORT THE IDEA OF LABORATORY THEATER. WHY?

I like when a theater is modern and exists in the present; it may become old in form, but it lives and is created in this very minute in our sight. Laboratory theater always asks the same question: what is theater and should it exist?

Every new production starts with this question. This is also the question which helps in the process of discovering. Theater has its own place in the modern world; has functions in spite of being an antique art form; it faces real threads, like literature.

People were afraid that theater would be ‘annihilated’ by television, cinema and internet, but we see that the 20th century has passed and these new technologies have not damaged theater; moreover, there is keen interest in live performance.

It is possible to fi nd almost every musical composition online within seconds, but live performance is something precious, and today we still enjoy being part of live concerts and performances. This direct contact has become an exclusive moment nowadays.

MOST OF YOUR PERFORMANCES ARE SHARPLY SOCIAL AND LESS COMMON FOR TRADITIONAL GEORGIAN THEATER…

Let’s consider theater as a platform for manifestations. A group of theater-goers gather in our space every evening and we can talk to them about acute issues of the present.

Just imagine how diffi cult it would be to collect approximately 200 people and focus them on one theme, but in the theater it happens every day, except Monday.

Being an actor means holding an active position; I see this profession only from such perspective and I always choose a person who will be able to talk directly from the stage. Such dialogue with the audience is extremely important in such a hysterical epoch when we have become a part of various problematic themes.

YOU SAY YOU ARE NOT DEPENDENT ON THE ORDER OF AUDIENCES, YOU DO NOT ASK THEM THEIR PREFERENCES, BUT THERE IS A CLOSE CONNECTION WITH THESE PEOPLE THAT CAN’T BE IGNORED. WHO IS THE SPECTATOR TO YOU?

We create a process and the essential part is to share it with spectators. Actually, everything we do is made for sharing with an audience. It’s a continuous process and during laboratory work, spectators are the main witnesses.

I personally believe that it’s right, because it can be confusing to try to guess what spectators want and in this case comes the question: which spectator? There are different people in the hall: some hate my performances, others like them, so for which group should we act?

Of course, for both groups, but it’s impossible to work to order, as it is hard to foresee what they will want and if I chose this tactic, I wouldn’t be true to myself and I wouldn’t be talking about what really bothers me as a citizen.

The way to success and popularity is utopian and doesn’t exist.

My latest production, ‘Prometheus/25 years of Liberty,’ is the most debatable of my works, with people loving and disliking it.

What I do is a totally individual and subjunctive process that afterwards is continued with my team and is shared with others at the last moment.

Performance as a public statement is accepted with difficulty, but we still have such statements, for example on social networks, which can be liked or disliked. I’m just sharing my thoughts and people react to them differently.

WHAT CAN A SPECTATOR SEE IN YOUR THEATER THAT CAN’T BE SEEN IN EUROPEAN THEATERS?

I think Georgian theater should speak about Georgia. My ambition is to create a local and concrete theater – a kind of background for universal dialogue. We got the feeling we were holding such a universal dialogue while presenting ‘The Trojan Women’ at the 10th Braunschweig Festival.

Getting back to the Royal District Theater, it always provides translations to foreign spectators. An international audience won’t be able to see a performance about Georgia in Europe. Our statement is local and universal at the same time.

DO YOU FEEL ANY LIMITATION TO REALIZING CRAZY IDEAS?

There are a number of obstacles not only preventing the realization of crazy ideas, but just for keeping them in mind. Culture dictates ideas in general and we can freely react to them and sometimes these reactions can be expressed in extreme forms.

In my opinion, an artist is an indicator of freedom and we can judge the quality of freedom by estimating the art processes of different countries.

While praising art processes in Georgia, it’s easy to guess that society faces the same reality and the only thing which can be done by an artist is to play with the limits of freedom and check how far he can go or expand these limits.

YOUR CAST ALREADY HAD SUCCESSFUL TOURS IN SWEDEN, ROMANIA, BELARUS, AND BELGIUM, AND YOU RECEIVED A SIGNIFICANT PRIZE IN GERMANY.

One of the foremost priorities for us is not only to have dialogue with our citizens, but also to be ambassadors in those spaces, to get people talking about the Georgians. We try our best to spread the word about Georgia and it’s one of the ways to get closer to Europe.

Braunschweig was the third city in Germany in which we toured. The rise of German theater started there and the first world premiere of ‘Faust’ took place in the Braunschweig Theater. So, it was a big challenge to succeed as a main prize-winner in such a theater at the Youth Festival, and this chance opens doors to new perspectives.

Our ‘Prometheus’ has already been invited to Germany, Karlsruhe at the European Theatrical Convention Festival, then we are going to stage our production in Dresden Theater, then in Romania, and in January we will tour in France with ‘The Trojan Women’ and ‘Froken Julie’.

Photo : Ana Boko

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