It must be theater season because over the past week Melissa, Tara and I have been to two Georgian plays. Both were equally, well… you’ll just have to read to find out.
Instead of having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate the American day of giving (or whatever Thanksgiving symbolizes) the girls and I decided on the less traditional option of going to see a mimodrame (I like fancy French words) of Romeo and Juliet.
We figured Shakespeare would be a safe bet. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see a group of Georgians miming on stage wearing tights? (In retrospect- the answer to that question is me).
We arrived at the old theater in Kutaisi and purchased our three lari tickets. (Can’t get deals like that in Manhattan!) As we were sitting and chatting in the balcony we began to attract the attention of all the other play-goers for speaking the mystical language of English. In fact, when the manager of the theater found out that there were Americans present, she personally came over to greet us and gave us our own box on the first level of the theater. Just another perk of being a foreigner in Saqartvelo!
Right as the show began I had a feeling we were going to be in for a painfully long treat. Melissa even turned to me during the first minute of the show and whispered, “I may have just spent three lari to take a nap”.
The show opened with a giant white ball being thrown around a stage that was set with black lights. I couldn’t tell if this was supposed to represent the moon or unrest between families or if the director just felt like opening with a giant white ball.
I think the play only got more bizarre as the show went on. None of the characters were really defined so we couldn’t tell who Mercutio was or who was a Montague or a Capulet. Plus, all the scenes were just agonizingly artistic to the point where you probably had to be tripping on drugs to make sense of why the characters were dancing with buckets, flying on magic carpets, or doing backwards somersaults (all actual events in the play).
The best part in the whole show was when Juliet drank the poison and the entire cast took on the role of her stomach. That’s right- they were the insides of her stomach. Another winner of a scene was when the characters went to the masquerade ball and an extended version of Michael Jackson’s “We are the World” was played as cast members pranced around for six minutes.
Asides from the fact that the whole play was distractingly tacky and ridiculous, we got such a good laugh out of so many of the scenes that I’m pretty sure it was well worth the three lari. It’s definitely an example of something that’s so bad, it’s good.
The next day we met up with some TLG friends who live in Poti and told them detailed accounts of almost each and every scene. Our friends were so entertained by our outrageous descriptions of the show that they’re making it a mission to come to Kutaisi to catch the next performance!
Our other play-going experience was equally as awkward and bizarre. Again, the three of us girls (Emily was the only one smart enough to say that she didn’t want to come) decided to check out a play at our local Samtredia theater.
Even though we went into the theater knowing it would likely be hard (if not impossible) for us to follow along (the play was entirely in Georgian) we made no efforts to find out what the place was about beforehand. Not one of our brightest ideas.
This theater experience was awkward even before the play started. We somehow sat down right behind Lasha (yes, GeoCell Lasha) and he happened to be on what looked like a very uncomfortable date. And next to Lasha sat Nini who also seemed to be on a date with her non-boyfriend ‘yet-he-totally-is-her-boyfriend’ boyfriend. I totally felt like I was chaperoning my little sister and my computer technician on their dates.
Understanding the play was a lost cause for all three of us girls. There were drugs, aliens with magic powers and some type of love between a heroin addict and a paralyzed woman. I’m actually not making any of this up; this is what the play was seriously about. Even Nini and her friends who actually know Georgian found the play bizarre and hard to follow.
The funniest part of the show actually happened after the actors took their bows at the end of the night. One of the women in the audience called out to Melissa and then said something to the entire cast along the lines of, “Look! It’s Melissa!” And would you believe that right then and there the entire cast and crew of the show began to give Melissa a standing ovation. None of us had any idea what was happening. Melissa just curtsied and thanked everyone for their applause while Tara and I almost died laughing at the bizarreness of the whole situation.
Even now, Melissa has no idea who that woman is and why the entire cast gave her such a hearty, over-the-top welcome. (Talk about Melissa stealing the actors’ thunder). One would think that after being in Samtredia for three months our celebrity status would die down. Nope, not a bit! In fact, the other day in class I even signed autographs both in English and in Georgian!