A spectacular spectacle

We had the pleasure of attending a performance of The Decameron at Marjanishvili Theater in Tbilisi. This theater has a very deep stage and rows upon rows of lights above. The theater is small, and its glory days have faded a bit, but it’s a wonderful space.

Our “daughter” Nini Chakvetadze tipped us that this play, and two others, would have subtitles in English. Indeed, there was a small screen to the side of the stage, but, unfortunately, we found it difficult to “interpret” the English. It seemed as if someone had used Google Translator to translate the original Italian into Georgian and then had again used Google Translator, but this time to translate Georgian into English. Never mind. We loved the performance.

Why? Because of the wonderful work by the director, set designer, and “scenographer?” Levan Tsuladze! With tremendous imagination and a relatively low budget Levan told this story in a most exciting manner.

Here’s the basic storyline (from Wikipedia): The Decameron is a 14th-century medieval allegory encompassing 100 tales by ten young people. It was probably composed between 1350 and 1353 and it includes bawdy tales of love, wit, practical jokes, and life lessons.

My favorite scene was the last one. If I understood it correctly, the message is that there is so much sin in the world–we are all sinners–but in the end, Gabriel will blow his horn and life will begin anew. To visualize this message, a few actors used tall poles to hold a thin piece of material high overhead. They carried the material from the back of the stage to the front, and then down a few stairs to the audience, and then to the back of the theater. We were ALL covered by the cloth–we are all sinners. I took the photo moments at the beginning of this scene.

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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