“Yes, I admit that we, the people, are inspired by other people’s tragedies,” said the young director of Till the Prince’s Suicide, a new verbatim performance opened as part of the new era of the Puppet Theatre this November.
Don’t let the prince die
By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, December 1
Guram Matskhonashvili’s play creates a unity between ordinary people and their puppet versions who share stories of Georgian reality filled with stereotypical approaches towards life, children, neighbors, love and family.
The play is based on 22 interviews with people facing different problems, and makes the audience feel the emotions behind the stories; a young pretty woman in a wheel-chair dreaming about dancing on her feet at night; a mother living far away in Greece to earn money through babysitting or taking care of elderly people to keep her husband and son; a school-boy bullied by his peers.
People deserve to live just like their neighbours but have to overcome so many obstacles not to fall and strive for better future.
These are all the ‘bare stories’ of people living around us, suffering and living in a constant struggle - the director himself called it ‘provocative harm’, which raises blood pressure and induces tears.
The play premiered on November 17, and is Matskhonashvili’s debut as a stage director.
“It’s a fact that all the authors creating certain products put things that are most important for them. However, it is noteworthy to say that its input should not be fully bared; it should not become absolutely clear and understandable for all,” Guram told The Messenger without sharing the secret as to who the ‘prince’ is.
It does not matter if it is a prince/princess or a beggar who serves as the protagonist – the main message from the play that I personally caught is that we should not live in our shells and forget about those living around us. Being a family member, a friend or a neighbour is to have a responsibility towards others; our words and actions can inspire or harm in equal measure: abuse can even lead to suicide. Respecting the choices of others can sometimes be difficult or even tragic, but free will is the right of everyone.
A journalist by profession, Matskhonashvili has been a target from certain areas of the public himself, as he once worked at the NGO Identoba, which deals with LGBT issues. He said people supposed he had become gay after joining the organization; however, his sexual identity had developed earlier when he was 11-12 and is not associated with his professional choice.
Feeling lucky to have a family that understands him, Guram says he is doubly lucky not to have abusive neighbors attempting to control his personal life, unlike those in his play who make the lives of the actors/actresses so heavy and unpleasant.
The life of people in Georgia during the 1990s was not easy, but those who have survived continue to take steps forward.