Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 12-13 (Jan-June 1987) p. 27.


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Shakespeare in the Productions of Sturua and Chkheidze

Vyacheslav Ivanov

IN DISCUSSIONS of contemporary Soviet stage direction the names of Robert Sturua and Temur Chkheidze usually come up together. And there is a lot of sense in (hat, although at first glance all they have in

common seems to be that they are both Georgians and belong to the theatrical generation which emerged on the scene in the 1970s. Sturua's direction style differs so strikingly from that of Chkheidze that, to appreciate each fully, they must be considered together. Sturua's festive and grotesque art and Chkheidze1 s ascetic and profoundly psychological art reveal two 'faces' of a single theatre. Their productions express two opposite, and at the same time two inseparable, artistic trends.

At the turn of the 1980s both Sturua and Chkheidze expressed their credos by turning to Shakespeare's drama. Chkheidze created a tragic production of Othello, while Sturua's production of Richard HI was to demonstrate the impossibility of tragedy. And each proved the correctness of his artistic stand.

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Robert Sturua has won world-wide acclaim of the sort which other directors of his age never dreamed of and which none of his senior colleagues ever won. Among the reasons for his spectacular success is Sturua's ability to organically combine simplicity and refinement, ingeniousness and popular appeal, thereby proving that the gap between popular and elitist art can be bridged. Sturua's productions recreate the old concept of the theatre as a festivity. They reveal the influence ofMikhail Bakhtin's ideas. The outstanding scholar regarded popular festival as a tradition of unrestrained universal gaiety. The ideas put forward by Bakhtin seemed to be an invitation to plunge into the old tradition in order to move ahead. Such a possibility tempted many people, but only in rare cases did it result in significant artistic achievements. Sturua's productions are among

Journal of Arts & Ideias 27


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