International troupes bring world issues, gender, AI and tech to Tbilisi theatre festival stages

Danse Macabre by director Vlad Troiskyi and Dakh Theatre of Ukraine opened the festival last week. Photo: Tbilisi international theatre festival, 03 Oct 2022 - 14:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

Tbilisi theatre venues are hosting international troupes bringing some of their finest works for this year's edition of Tbilisi international festival of theatre, with companies from Ukrainian-based Dakh Theatre to the Merlin Puppet Theatre of Germany and Japan's Discrete Figures inviting viewers to stages across the city.

Launching last week, the festival programme has been designed to incorporate questions and themes stemming from global issues, from the conflict in Ukraine to matters of gender, technology and more.

The Ukrainian troupe offered the opening act of the 2022 festival with Danse Macabre, their co-production with the National Theatre of Normandy, at Georgian capital's State New Theatre, bringing their exploration of the "constant rhyming of life and death with emotional honesty" to the stage.

Artistic director Vlad Troitsky said the troupe worked to combine "different directions of music and are inspired by the trend of minimalism, especially the likes of music of Philip Glass", but added the war in their homeland had "changed our words and forms of expression, which became sharper, more aggressive and more sincere".


In the second show of the festival, Athens-founded and German-based Merlin Puppet Theatre, hosted the audience to Clowns' Houses, a production staged by Dimitris Stamou as a "metaphor for the technocratic world" on the one hand and "visible loneliness" on the other.

[In Clowns' House] people sit in darkened, slightly mystical and distorted rooms. They found themselves entrapped in their own habits and loneliness, from which it is impossible to escape

- festival summary

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the programme will direct its focus to Lebensraum, a show by the Dutch-based Jakop Ahlbom Company, with Marjanishvili Theatre in downtown Tbilisi hosting the "sad yet danceable mood" of the production where "the artist 'shrinks' the room in front of our eyes, because the living room of the two men is too small".

In order to make the most of the space, they will turn the bed into a piano, and the bookshelf into a refrigerator. To compensate for a woman, they create a mechanical doll, but soon the doll will develop its own desires and thoughts

- festival summary

A still from the performance Discrete Figures, which has been hailed as a synthesis of technology with the contemporary theatre. Photo: Tbilisi international theatre festival

The gender theme of the programme will then expand in Friday's performance of I am a woman, do you hear me? by Iran's Praxis theatre and director Camelia Ghazali. The generational drama takes a look at women from the country who are misunderstood and whose voices become an echo after they are ignored.

In the closing show of the festival, Japan's Discrete Figures troupe will highlight their blend of technology with a modern dance company in what organisers have called the "real discovery of this year's festival".

In a combination of maths, tech, video images and artificial intelligence by director Mikiko, AI-based digital data "gives body movement a whole new dimension" with movements of the dancers projected on the screen while the "copy-movements" are repeated in rectangular frames.

This year's festival is dedicated to the memory of Georgia's distinguished late director Temur Chkheidze, who died earlier this year. The event will run through October 10, with more information on the shows available here.