Sunday, October 22, 2006

Styx differently

A quiet day, spent the morning walking over to Vake and slowly back via my new flat. The flat is really in a wonderful location, though immediately below and to the right there is a right mogre of tumbling down houses. Would not like to go along there at night and need to work out the best way to get to and from the concert halls, where there is light on the roads. At least my entrance is watched by the guard of the French or Italian ambassador's house.

The number of wee shops in Tbilisi is amazing; in the street I am staying in at the moment there must be 10 shops, including three cornershops on one crossroads, all selling much the same thing. Somewhere else I walked past there was a basement baker's shop which was a great source of interest to some Tbilisi folk who had their noses pressed against the large picture window.

Tonight I went along to the theatre to see the 'play' 'Styx' by Gia Kancheli; generally it is about the river Styx and people on either side of it, dying in a myriad of ways. Actually it is a piece of music .... Kancheli's beautiful music (viola, choir, orchestra) was used in a recorded form, mostly, and now and again, in between other sound effects. The set was bare, containing 16 chairs, a fridge from which spilled sand, a gas cooker, 16 men, 7 women, all dressed in neutral colours. The 'play' began by the sixteen chairs being dragged across the stage, one at a time. There was much slow motion, in fact, a very great deal of slow motion. At one stage an omelette (two eggs) was cooked on the stage, and then the gas oven was used for the inevitable, in the context of 'Styx'. At another moment Charlie Chaplins 'Smile', in the Michael Jackson recording, was inserted which worked surprisingly well. It was a bit of a walking ballet, or a ballet without dancing.

Very interesting; there one thinks of Georgians of all fire and flame, and you get this quiet little performance (though the music was played at a level that was anything but quiet). It would be interesting to hear the real music performed by real Georgians (I am not sure whose recording was used). Apparently Kancheli lives in Antwerp now; the piece is actually a requiem for his parents and friends, and I wonder what he would have thought when the audience mostly left the theatre laughing, those who had not walked out earlier.