The Rustaveli State Drama Theatre name is revered in Georgia and abroad. Long associated with high artistry and serious theatre, its talented actors and pioneering producers together continue to collaborate on inquisitive, inspiring, and modern productions. Outside of Georgia, it is often called “The Theatre of Stars” in honour of its actors’ gifts. Distinguished by its youthful vigour and constant quest for new theatrical directions and forms, for more than a century the Rustaveli has been the epicentre for Georgian national expression. Then and now, the theatre’s ethos has always been to stage work that is socially engaged and profoundly creative.
Over the years, the nation’s best writers and artists have staged countless productions on the Rustaveli stage. Each of the theatre’s many producers has left their own stamp on the theatre, but all selected plays for clarity of meaning and social relevance without artistic compromise.
The Rustaveli Theatre was founded in 1879 by a special dramatic committee made up of famous Georgian actors and writers along with cultural and political figures. Since that time the theatre has had a romantic but sometimes trying history. Shortly after the theatre’s foundation in 1882, David Eristavi’s play The Homeland was performed in a production that soon became a national event. Witnessing a play where the set decoration included national flags, and where Georgians celebrated the glory of their indepent past while speaking their native language, spectators began to make spontaneous peaceful demonstrations mid-performance. It also became a great cause for concern in the eyes of the Russian imperial government, and so almost immediately after its inception the Rustaveli was at the centre of current affairs. One of the key figures of the theatre’s past is the political playwright Kote Marjanishvili, whose plays championed social reform. Akhmeteli, another luminary in the history of the theatre and a celebrated pioneer of conceptual directing, directed his script Fuente Ovejuna (1922), Antonov’s Sun Eclipse in Georgia (1923), and Hamlet (1925) with a light but incisive style that was firmly grounded in the Georgian national character. Akhmeteli’s dazzling productions were distinguished by a sense of civic consciousness, restraint, and by his own exacting nature. His most renowned shows are Lavrev’sDisorganization (1928), Shanshiashvili’s Anzori (1928), Robakidze’s Lamara (1930), and Dadiani’s Tetnuldi (1931). The Soviets later executed Akhmeteli as a nationalist and enemy of the people in 1936. At that time they also executed, punished, or exiled a number of actors and other theatre employees.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]