Celebrating Georgian Theatre: A Fundraising Dinner at 80-20 Shops

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Category Columnists, Culture, Lifestyle, People, Town
Date January 31 2024
Reading Time 3 min.

Celebrating Georgian Theatre: A Fundraising Dinner at 80-20 Shops

A fundraising dinner was held recently by Mako Abashidze, a Georgian entrepreneur and founder of the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce, at her wine establishment 80-20 Shops in London. The dinner was dedicated to the development of Georgian theatre on the international stage. The funds raised at the event will go to support and fund the newest independent Georgian theatre, Theatre Factory 42, founded in 2023 by an acclaimed Georgian theatre director Levan Tsuladze.

Despite its recent launch, Theatre Factory 42 is already in the spotlight of both Georgian audiences and the directors colleagues from around the world. The director himself has been staging productions that have been successful not only in his native Georgia, but also abroad for decades. The list of his past works includes productions based on world classics from Shakespeare to Thomas Mann, productions based on works by Georgian authors Kakabadze, Batiashvili and many other contemporary writers, as well as plays of his own composition such as Drunk Cherry.

Levan Tsuladze is a pioneer in the modern Georgian theatre scene, opening the countrys first independent theaters, Basement Theatres, back in the 90s. Later in 2006 he became director of the Marjanishvili Academic Theatre in Tbilisi, where he began to develop a new perspective on Georgian theatre, remaining in that position until the founding of the new Theatre Factory 42 project. Through his innovative vision and collaborations with theatresaround the world, Tsuladze took Georgian theatre arts on a global level, gaining the support and recognition of his international peers.

It was partly due to Tsuladzes reputation as a great innovator of contemporary Georgian theatre that the fundraising event turned to be an avid success. Among the guests of the event were representatives of the Georgian diaspora in London, as well as an international audience, who were united by a common love of theatre, Tsuladzes work and a passion for Georgian culture. The general reception of the dinner was perfectly characterised by one of the guests present Katie Melua, a popular singer of Georgian origin who explained that Theatre can be the deepest place to explore and understand humanity. It is an honour to support the opening of a new independent theatre in Georgia.

An integral part of Georgian hospitality – world-famous Georgian cuisine – was an important element of the fundraising dinner. A wide choice of dishes provided by the famous Georgian restaurant Kartuli included both light appetisers and full-fledged delicacies of meat and vegetables, combining the contrast of pungency and spice typical of Georgian cuisine, accompanied by a real khachapuri. In the best traditions of Georgia, the variety of dishes was complemented by an equally rich selection of wine. 80-20 Shops has the largest collection of Georgian wine in the UK, so guests had the opportunity to explore the flavours of real Georgian wine in depth.

The atmosphere of the dinner itself was very thoughtfully designed in a theatrical style to support the setting of the main theme of the event with the help of the theatrical costumes specially brought for this event from Georgia, that were made for Levan Tsuladzes previous productions. Reflecting different epochs and the creators views on them and having their own history of creation, unique style and inspired by the spirit of Georgia, these costumes were the perfect addition to the evening and represented the directors long journey in the theatre.

Tsuladzes longtime friend Giles Foreman, the Europes leading acting couch and a director of a London-based acting studio of the same name, also participated in the organisation of the dinner. For the event, he prepared a movie about Tsuladze and Theatre Factory 42. Despite the fact that Forman was unable to attend the event in person, being in Georgia for an acting class at the time, Forman expressed his sincere admiration for the organisers and the generous purpose of the dinner. Besides, Foreman expressed hope that this is only the first of such extraordinary events under the organisation of Mako Abashidze, who has so skilfullymanaged to create a true celebration of the wonderful things Georgia has to offer: delicious food, exquisite wine, profound and uplifting theatre, and most importantly, incredible, warm, inclusive, hospitable Georgian people.

Indeed, the dinner, organised to help develop Levan Tsuladzes new project, was a true celebration of Georgian culture, where each guest had the opportunity to personally touch upon Tsuladzes work and the amazing traditions of his homeland. The event was not only a fundraiser, but also a unique cultural opportunity that enriched the experience of all those present.