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Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Flashback - From DC to Russia with Love

This post 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC on Nov. 1, 2012
The Synetic cast of a previous production of King Lear
For Paata Tsikurushvill and his wife, Irina, it will be a grand homecoming. Paata, founding artistic director of the Synetic Theater, and Irina, choreographer and cast star, have not been back to their native country of the Republic of Georgia (formerly part of the Soviet Union) for 2 decades. Now, not only are they going home, but they will taking almost 20 members of their award-winning theater company with them.

Synetic will be performing 2 shows in Georgia. The first is their silent adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic King Lear. The second is Host and Guest, a play based on an epic Georgia poem written by Vazha Pshavela.

Recently, Synetic hosted a special rehearsal of selected scenes from both productions for season subscribers at the Crystal City theater. Afterward, cast members discussed the upcoming 2-week tour.

"It's scary to be performing an actual Georgian play in front of a Georgian audience, but it's exciting, too," said actor and fight choreographer Ben Kunis. "Ever since I joined the company, we have been talking about going to Georgia and now we are actually going to do it."

Irina expanded on Kunis' enthusiasm. "Host and Guest is a traditional [show] about the Georgians’ roots,” she said “I know the Georgian audience is going to be so emotional to see Americans performing something Georgian, with Georgian blood. And it’s a huge responsibility in front of my people for me. It’s kind of nerve-racking!”

"My friends and family will be there. My ballet teacher will be there, It's like I am going back to school and this is my final exam,' Irina said.

Synetic will be the 1st American Theater troupe to perform in Georgia. The performances are scheduled for the Rustaveli State Theater, which is the national dramatic theater of Georgia. The facility seats 800 people and has 5 balconies, making it much larger than the intimate space Synetic occupies in the Crystal City Underground. Even though the troupe has performed both plays before, the immense size of the Rusteveli stage caused several of the scenes to be reworked and the dancing expanded.

Synetic, which annually captures several Helen Hayes awards (DC's equivalent of Broadway's Tonys) calls its brand of theater, which minimizes, and, in many cases, entirely eliminates dialogue, physical theater. They combine movement, dance, music, video, and mime to propel their innovative storytelling.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
As I've said before, it is difficult to describe Syntetic's unique brand of theater with words. So here are 2 additional images, one from Lear and one from Host and Guest,  that will give you a glimpse of what the productions might look like to the Georgian audiences.


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