A unique Georgian theatre troupe is sharing their celebrated plays to an intimate audience in Berlin’s Pumpe Youth Culture Centre this week.
The Budrugana Gagra Hand Shadow Theatre is in the German capital for a three-day program that launched on Monday.
They are presenting The Four Seasons of the Year — the show that signified their debut 26 years ago — and Isn't This A Lovely Day, a story of "childhood, love, separation, death, and how to defeat it”.
See a teaser for the hand shadow performance 'The Four Seasons of the Year' below:
The former show, performed at the Berlin venue on Monday, is "about the adventures of a bear boy, friendship and Georgian traditions” and premiered in Paris in 1991.
It marked the start of the road for the company founded by their creative director Gela Kandelaki, who is also present for the Berlin shows.
Budrugana Gagra also offer children attending their plays to take part in workshops in shadow performance.
The troupe is distinct for only using hand shadows in their stagings, unlike other shadow theatres that also use puppets to present stories.
Assembled mainly by internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing the early 1990s conflict in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region, the company took its name from the resort town Gagra in the region.
The stage of Berlin’s Pumpe Youth Culture Centre. Photo: Jugendkulturzentrum Pumpe.
Their inaugural performance in 1991 was part of the international festival Les Semaines De La Marionette a Paris in the French capital.
Since then Kandelaki's group have performed at international puppet festivals in Europe and the United States.
Their shows in Georgia have included appearances at the Georgian International Festival of Arts in Tbilisi and the Contemporary Music Evenings Tbilisi.
They have staged over 300 productions — most of them charitable events that raised money for IDPs and homeless children.
Budrugana Gagra has also been involved in international collaboration, with the group helping University of Klaipeda in Lithuania students in preparing hand shadow shows last year.
Their Berlin performances coincide with year-long celebrations for 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, marked with cultural events in both Germany and Georgia.