There goes a play . . .
21 October, 2010
There goes a play . . .

Who knows how many thousands, or millions of big and small things are happening in this motley world as each of us carry on with our own big or small business! And only one iota of these human doings will be reflected on by the means of mass communication. Most of the life is probably brewing just behind the scenes. Any time you hit any of those mazes of human bustle, you find people sweating over what they think is most

rational and useful to be done at that particular moment of their lives, thinking that the job they keep on tinkering with is most worth their while and endeavor. And this has been the way it is from time out of mind.
One of those little warrens we are talking about is located in the oldest and quaintest corners of Tbilisi. The place is called ‘Theater at Atoneli’. And believe it or not, I am engaged there in one of the roles in one of the plays, being produced within its amazingly warm and inviting walls as I am sweating over molding this special article into something sensible and readable.

The play curiously titled as ‘Good Morning, Hundred Dollars!’ was penned not very long ago by the aboriginal Tbilisi townies, husband and wife Peter Khatyanovski and Inga Garuchava, and immediately grabbed for expedited putting on stage by my childhood friend Keti Dolidze, well-known movie and theater director and the daughter of legendary Siko Dolidze, director of the most celebrated Georgian pictures. It is no secret that I have tried myself a couple of times in my fresher years both on screen and stage, which certainly makes my renewed immersion fairly comfortable into the never-changing sweet and thorny artistic world, where I still feel myself ill at ease although my professional co-actors are going all out to make me feel at home. This way or that way, their explicitly feather-touch treatment is not enhancing my thespian gift at all. Even without those fringes in place, I would never take myself seriously on the stage, but Keti is insisting that I can play the damned part. Of course she has chosen me for the role because she knows I can manage in English better than most of the presumably available actors. You might want to know that the guy I am doing is an American who is not quite a spring chicken but he is in a fairly tolerable shape for his age. If you can possibly imagine, the entire piece is played in the Georgian language, and it is only my protagonist (not exactly the main character though) who operates in English on the stage. It is meant that the spectator will anyway understand the brief and stupid lines which Ted (my guy) is using at his sporadic talkie moments.

The action is taking place in America. Ted is a massage specialist working for a wealthy female vegetable Mary (Nana Pachuashvili). Eliko (Nineli Chakvetadze), a married Georgian woman in her mid-forties is working as the senile matron’s baby-sitter who will soon return to Georgia, and Ben (Ramaz Ioseliani) is a violin player hired to entertain the rich old lady. I am surprised at the capacity of thought and action accumulated in this short and laconic production, so dynamically and expressly presenting on the stage all what we want to call social, political and economic particulars of our life – as incisive and life-size as they happen to be in our routinely dragged-on reality. I embarked on rehearsing the role very shyly and reluctantly but as the spectacle started to acquire some of its anticipated contours I saw myself as a more or less organic bit of the entire course of action, happily pepped up by those bona-fide encouragements on part of our crew members into bargain. 
Just a couple of days shy of the dress-rehearsal, this smart theatrical miniature, which plays out like a comedy but definitely smells like a drama, might have a latent potential of winning numerous hearts and minds not only in Georgia but in America too, saying nothing about the rest of the world. As unassumingly written and directed as it might seem, the play is a clear manifestation of the most cherished human ideals – love, friendship, tolerance, faith and compassion. Keti, Mari, Eliko, Ben and Ted are very far from the notion of the ‘birds of a feather’, but they can also be the good souls of the same ilk. Isn’t bringing people together in peace and understanding one of the most active dreams of the mankind? There you go! You’ve got it all in abundance right on that tiny stage of that cute little Theater at Atoneli . . . Yes, the fortune would have it, all of them will finally be living together. And things like this are happening everywhere at all times. What never happens though is giving a birth to family, the members of which will never again desire to live in separation. They will all, just all of them rush to Georgia for their treasured perennial abode.

There is one more character that is always sheltered behind the scenes, the owner and operator of the Theater Rezo Salukvadze. He himself is a very artistic figure, never having made money out of his theater. (Would he really care?) The only thing this tremendously likable Georgian patron of arts is concerned about is to cushion the artistes against unpredictable fits and starts that might come into their way towards the incipient performance. Rezo is simply in love with the House and its come-and-go dwellers – his is not a regular stock company.

The targeted first night on October the 24th of 2010 is a possibility. We are all out like one to beat the target, but who knows, anything can happen . . . Meanwhile, the actors and the director are paddling on it as fast as possible, and talent helps too – there is no paucity of it on the stage or beyond it. Poor Ted though! His maker Nug might feel a little threatened in his cameo part– not so easy to operate next to those professional giants – but for now, let’s forget about Nug’s stage fright or other artistic inhibitions and think about Teddy: will he ever know for real what Georgia is all about?

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