Posted: 11 months ago
Author: Nina Gomarteli

Margo Korableva Performance Theatre: Behind the Scenes of Alternative Theatre in Tbilisi

Photo on the right: Guram Tsibakhashvili

‘’Margo Korableva Performance Theatre operates on the platform of relativistic synthetics efficiency. It takes items, deconstructs them apart, and re-loads them as brand new, redesigned content. The theatre group applies the method of carnivalism and dialogism to achieve body and mind proximity, the interpenetration of action and text, sometimes using two opposite theatre stages at the same time or remains to work based on rehearsals in the form of performances,’’ said Mariam Shergelashvili, theatre Curator of Margo Korableva Performance theatre. 

Margo Korableva Performance Theatre was founded in 1994 in Tbilisi under the initiative of artist and poet David Chikhladze. Since 1999, the theatre’s work platform has been featured at various venues in New York, such as Collective: Unconscious, Here Arts, theatre Et Al, Chocolate Factory, Remote Lounge, Staten Island Arts Cypher, and Spirit Wind Performance Space (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). In 2009-2013, the theatre periodically conducted workshop series at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. In 2015, the International Culture Lab, New York after cooperation with Margo Korableva Performance Theatre, established the annual Coney Island Ritual Cabaret Festival for experimental and physical theatre. Since 2020, Margo Korableva’s Performance theatre has been working at the Theatre and Film Georgia State University.

Photo: Sandro Sulaberidze

Photo: Sandro Sulaberidze

What have been some challenges of starting and maintaining a performance theatre?

Developing and maintaining performance theatre as a non-formal, alternative platform in Georgia is not a simple decision; On the contrary, it seems like a brave solution to start making performance theatre that needs radical enthusiasm and uncompromised activity to think, act and create. If we briefly overview the structural formation of MKPT, the most important and challenging aspect seems to be that it operates in between/and beyond the borders of visual art and theatre. In general, performance art has such kinds of intersections between the disciplines. Making such kinds of connections gives us the possibility to create a contemporary sensibility that stands beyond time or any historical categorizations. 

Particularly, by rejecting traditional theatrical approaches, we try to develop a synthesized model, where actors and directors are theatre-makers. With the abolition of the acting role at Margo Korableva Performance Theatre, the performer becomes not a simple actor but a performer of his role and with the effect of alienation at the same time. This creates an area of ​​attention and action - an interpersonal field both for participants and for spectators. According to these denial principles, theatre becomes a non-theatre and at the same time a space where the power of art and creativity is born. This birth declares magical, sensual, and ritualistic layers of transcendental and real.

Photo on the right: Guram Tsibakhashvili

With releasing Medea’s Meditations, do you find that the Tbilisi community has embraced live theatre at the level you originally envisioned?

During this uncertain time of the pandemic, it is really hard to involve the audience and this was a real dilemma while working on this particular project as well. Besides the regulations and the forced lack of visitors’ presence during the live performance, we can say that it did not affect the actual realization of Medea’s Meditations. Performance was composed of ritual, liminal and borderline actions and manifestations based on working sketches and iconography drafts of intangible sensibilities which is a new experience for the Georgian audience. 

Medea’s Meditations dynamic, bodily, ecstatic state also responded to the concept of Oxygen Biennial 2021 – Rites of Passage (curated by Keti (Ketevan) Shavgulidze and Ser Serpas). The performance accentuated a liminal, marginal state - a phase that is a kind of transition, a connection between the other world and the existing reality. This aspect also finds an interesting connection to our current “in-between” condition.

What impresses you the most about the local performing arts scene?

The local performing art scene as well as contemporary visual art here is very dynamic and fluid, let’s say, not framed. This fluidity impresses me the most. Also, performance art as a discipline in Georgia is still in the process of formation. I appreciate individual enthusiasm which we can find in the creative work of different artists’ or artistic groups. But there are still a lot of gaps that can be “filled in '' creatively and it's’ our task to engage spectators, to give them an experience of feeling, observing, and reflecting - performance art has this direct influence on the audience and we have to rethink this possibility. 

Photo: Sandro Sulaberidze

As we know, Medea’s Meditations is part of the Biennial program. Tell us more about your upcoming projects. 

At this stage, we have finalized the performance “Poetry is Resistance” which was created in the framework of the Zurab Rtveliashvili award ceremony. We are also planning to strengthen connections with our international partners to participate in different festivals abroad. Already we are starting to work on a collaborative project which is planned to be realized in 2022. 

Do you have any specific themes in mind for your next performances?

This is an endless process of searching, reflecting, thinking… It’s not just intuitive extempore ideas - this is a process of defying theme, which gives us the possibility to reshape the sensibility of our audience - if we say it very broadly, it is always LOVE, PASSION, DESIRE AND JOY from which we are specifying different thematic aspects.