3 Nov 2009

Tibilisi International Theatre Festival

Oliver Jones, Trestle's Associate Director (Taking Part) talks about his recent visit to Georgia for the Tibilisi International Theatre Festival with fellow Arts Council East artists...

It's odd what you find out about people. Who would have thought that Ivan Cutting, Artistic Director of Eastern Angles, shares a passion for airline food as I do? And Turkish Airlines did not let us down, sating us with a plethora of Turkish delights as we made our way to the Tibilisi International Theatre Festival in Georgia.

Our trip was predominantly to savour the best in Georgian theatre. We also had time to discuss our recent work in our own region with fellow ACE artists, whilst also meeting producers, artists, and critics from around the globe.

The theatre we indulged in was as rich and varied as the plenteous banquets we were offered, some stunning, some, well, not so. A remarkable ‘Macbeth’ and a fantastic circus themed ‘Bierderman and the Fire Raisers’ directed by Robert Stura, was tempered by some unintelligible and rather dour affairs. There were plenty of puppets too, the best of which was a marionette and live action fusion of a Chekhov short story, that we hope may make its way to the UK.

Tibilisi itself was a fascinating mix of old soviet, and even older middle eastern architecture, and our hosts were incredibly welcoming, making our stay as well organised as they possibly could, which was very different to the traffic system which was as crazy as the man I encountered lighting a cigarette knee deep in a fountain.

Roger McCann of the Arts Council was more Georgian than the Georgians, toasting away during dinner like a man possessed, and Gavin Stride, of the Farnham Maltings shocked most with his choice of shirts.

This is the first year of the festival, and with Roger and the Tibilisi mayor behind it, I am sure it will go from strength to strength. Many fruitful relations were made with the Georgian theatre companies, and we hope that in the future collaborations will blossom. I very much look forward to Trestle being at the heart of these and that I will return to such an interesting, cultured, and friendly city.

By Oliver

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