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This week at the Gift Festival we celebrated all things Italian. Our Italian Focus opened on Friday 2nd Nov with a presentation on contemporary Italian Theatre, ‘Rispondi Al Futuro’, held by Michele Panella. The talk was surprisingly well attended, with people spilling out of the door! During the talk we heard from Tenore Murales, a group of five Sardinian singers, who bought their unique form of polyphony to the festival.
That evening Sardegna Teatro’s Macbettu opened at the Rustaveli theatre. Shakespeare’s classic Macbeth, performed in Sardinian, with Italian and Georgian subtitles. It was an outstanding piece of theatre, weaving rituals of ancient Sardinian traditions in with the medieval Scottish play. At the end, the performers got an instant standing ovation from the whole theatre.
This week I also spent a lot of time at the International Symposium on Traditional Polyphony, that was taking place at the State Conservatoire. Now in its Ninth year, the symposium brings together singers and musicologists from all over the world for five days of concerts, lectures, film screenings and plenty of impromptu singing. I was in my element! Tenore Murales sang at their closing concert on Saturday evening, along with plenty of Georgian and international ensembles.
And the fun wasn’t over yet. On Sunday I helped organise the Gift Festival folk party and craft fair at Vineria, our festival club. Local artists bought their beautiful pieces to sell, and the space was filled with singing. We were treated to more songs from Tenore Murales, and Tbilisi ensembles Ialoni and Adilei. Many of the singers attending the symposium came along, so there was plenty of spontaneous singing too! We even celebrated the birthday of Ialoni’s Shorena, by singing a big georgian happy birthday.
After the party we headed to the Amirani cinema to watch La Stoffa Dei Sogni (The Stuff of Dreams), a wonderful Italian film set on a sardinian prison island. A shipwreck brings a troupe of actors and a band of criminals to the island, and a shakespeare-esque farce ensues. The setting of the film was beautiful, and it felt like we were watching lots of shakespeare plays at once, all tangled together in an intricate web. For once I could understand what was going on, thanks to the English subtitles! It was the perfect end to a wonderfully hectic week.
This week wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support of the Italian Ambassador HE Antonio Enrico Bartoli and his wonderful team. What a triumph! We all celebrated last night at his residence with the most delicious Italian food, and, you guessed it, more singing.
I’m really excited about next week’s events at the festival. We’ve got a trio of fabulous productions to finish off the month. Our Norwegian Focus continues with Winter Guests, bringing their kabuki-flamenco mash-up Simulacrum; and the Ingri Fiksdal Company, bringing their anthropological dance-concert, State. Last but not least, Hofesh Schecter Company from the UK bring their dance piece Show (The Entrance. Clowns. Exit.). No more language barriers for me! And I have a feeling all three of these pieces are going to be fascinating and exciting. Tickets for all these shows can be bought online at bilitebi.ge.
For more information visit the Gift Festival Facebook page or pick up a programme at Prospero’s book store.