Visit this tiny theater, a favorite of Tbilisi's cultural scene, where marionettes act in moving performances. Opened in 1981, the Gabriadze Theater has become a much-loved part of Tbilisi's cultural scene. A small space with only 80 seats, the puppets act out high-brow dramas such as "The Autumn of Our Springtime" and "The Battle of Stalingrad."
A Georgian Icon
The company is under the direction of noted Georgian artist, writer, and director Rezo Gabriadze. Gabriadze was born in Kutaisi in what was then known as Soviet Georgia. As an artist, first and foremost, he has gained an international reputation as screenwriter, stage director, painter, sculptor, and puppeteer. He's written 35 screenplays, the most famous of which include "Don't Grieve," "Mimino," and "Kin-Dza-Dza." His awards include Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic, France's highest recognition for cultural achievements. His influence on the Georgian culture has been lasting and profound. In 1981 he founded the Gabriadze Theater. Gabriadze had lived his whole life under Soviet rule, and puppets became a covert way to achieve a greater degree of artistic independence and tell dramatic stories without drawing too much attention from authoritarian critics. The performances were an instant hit in Tbilisi and it wasn't long before Gabriadze and his puppets were gaining international attention, and they went on tour. The Lincoln Center Festival in New York, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the Theater de la Ville in Paris, Spain and Bogota, Toronto and London, Washington and Moscow, all saw performances from the puppets.
A puppet show with a difference
Stroll through the streets of old Tbilisi and you'll spot the distinctive theater and its clock tower, the Leaning Tower of Tbilisi. Keep an eye on the tower as on the stroke of each hour, an angel comes out to strike the bell. Head inside for a moving marionette show, which is meant for adult audiences and are described as "mature puppet performances full of depth and meaning." Check in advance for availability, as space is often limited. There's also a cafe next to the theater. Opened in 1988, it's designed so that the theater is filled all day with the aroma of coffee. There are three rooms and a summer terrace that looks out onto the ancient Anchiskhati basilica and Rezo's Tower. Mr Gabriadze himself designed the interior, including paintings, posters, sculptures, ceramics, tables, chairs and curtains. Though modest in size, the "actors" in this theater will leave a lasting impression on you in this highly celebrated cultural institution in Tbilisi.