Celebrate World Puppetry Day with Tbilisi theatre’s exhibition of handmade marionettes

A photograph from the Tbilisi theatre's production 'Georgia'. Photo: Tbilisi State Puppet Theatre.
Agenda.ge, 19 Mar 2018 - 18:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

Tbilisi’s State Puppet Theatre will mark World Puppetry Day on Wednesday by hosting an exhibition and a sale of theatre puppets, a music concert and a puppet show for its young visitors.

The popular troupe, dating back to the 1930s and preparing to move to a brand-new venue, will display handmade puppets to celebrate the March 21 international date.

Organisers of the occasion said around 30 puppeteers would present their creations to the audience of the theatre’s day-long program of events. A local paraorchestra, formed from artists with disabilities, will provide musical backdrop for the display.

The first display of puppets on Wednesday will be launched at noon, with another exhibition by Artmani Workshop coming later during the day.

In the latter display, puppets created on the theme of blue tablecloth ornaments will be painted by participants aged 6-14 before they receive the resulting exhibits as presents from the workshop.

Between the two puppet-centred highlights, the theatre will also show its appreciation to local firefighters by hosting their kids for the company’s puppet show Georgia.

The production — directed by Nikoloz Sabashvili — will be held in another show in the evening and be open for the regular public.

The Tbilisi-based troupe has a repertoire of productions on diverse themes for young and adult audiences. Photo: Tbilisi State Puppet Theatre.

A dramatised narration of the history of the country, the 50-minute show is one of the productions in the theatre’s diverse repertoire.

Established in 1934 by People's Artist of Georgia Giorgi Mikeladze, the puppet theatre held its first performance in May that year.

As no productions for puppet theatre existed in Georgia at the time, the company's first show was based on a Russian play. The first Georgian production followed in the mid-1930s with a piece titled Glutton, which was seen by 40,000 people over 200 shows.

Some of the puppets featured in the company's shows. Photo: Tbilisi State Puppet Theatre.

Sketches for the maiden stage designs were made by Georgian modernist painter Petre Otskheli, while the puppets themselves were made by Mikheil Sarauli.

Traditionally known for its productions aimed at children, the theatre recently announced a new initiative to present shows about more adult themes such as social issues faced by disabled people.

The theatre received the Grand Prix at the 2015 Unima International Festival of Puppet Theatres in Yerevan, Armenia for its play based on the famous Georgian children’s story The Lullaby's Power.

Their former building was closed in 2011 after falling into a state of disrepair, forcing the group to find temporary locations for rehearsals and performances in the capital city.

Artists of the theatre, photographed following a show in Georgia. Photo: Tbilisi State Puppet Theatre.

A new theatre building is currently in construction for the company, with the initial projections aiming for 2018 for its completion.

World Puppetry Day was first marked in 2003 following a proposal from Iranian puppet theater artist Javad Zolfaghari.

The global celebration is held by the International Union of the Marionette (UNIMA).