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Synetic Theater: Physical But Wordless Shakespeare

i-5ZT9XpR-SMedal.jpgAmericans, who love their movies, and therefore favor image over text, and action over talk, should pay attention to the Washington, DC area company Synetic Theater. Founded in 2002 by Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili, Georgian artists who moved to the United States in the 1990s, Synetic Theater's goal is to be the premier American physical theater company. Their brand of physical theater includes: text, drama, movement, acrobatics, dance, music, as well as colorful and clever sets, costumes, and props. While there are at least a half dozen physical theater companies operating in the United States, Synetic distinguishes itself with its silent interpretations of Shakespearean plays.

Having accrued 79 Helen Hayes nominations and received 21 Helen Hayes awards, Synetic has forged alliances with the Kennedy Center (in 2006, Synetic began its five-year partnership with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to produce one show per season) and The Shakespeare Theatre Company (producing an adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra at STC's Lansburgh Theatre). It also offers a number of its productions for touring engagements. In 2010, Synetic secured permanent space in Crystal City, Virginia.

So far, the Dresser has seen Synetic's productions of The Master and Margarita, King Lear, and on October 2, 2011, Macbeth, which is part of Synetic's Speak No More Silent Shakespeare Festival. Macbeth ran September 14 to October 2, Othello runs October 19 to November 6, and Romeo and Juliet runs November 25 to December 23.

Synetic's Macbeth, which premiered in January 2007, was nominated for 11 Helen Hayes awards and received 5 in 2008 including:
Outstanding Resident Play

Outstanding Director, Paata Tsikurishvili

Outstanding Choreography, Irina Tsikurishvili

Outstanding Sound Design, Irakli Kavsadze and Paata Tsikurishvili

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Philip Fletcheri-dnjRp8q-SMaleWitch.jpg













This current production, which just closed, featured Irakli Kavsadze as Macbeth, Irina Tsikurishvili as Lady Macbeth, and Philip Fletcher as the male witch. Each brought tremendous energy and power to their performances. What's interesting about Synetic's interpretation of Macbeth is that you did not have to know Shakespeare's extensive list of players (Macduff, his lady, their children, Banquo, Duncan, Malcolm, Ross -and Tsikurishvili and his writing partner Nathan Weinberger have cut out some of the more minor characters) to enjoy this ninety-minute show. The five acts, without intermission, go by seamlessly in one remarkable scenario after the other.

Perhaps, one could argue that the first scene with three clerics--Jewish, Muslim, and Christian--holding aloft a large globe of our planet sets the bar of excellence for the entire production. Of course it helps if you know Shakespeare's play, especially if one knows the witches chant, which reveals why the clerics preside in the opening scene.

Otherwise what you, Dear Reader missed, was the breath-taking entrances and exits of the witches from their manholes, an army with flashlights that the Dresser associates with the Gestapo in WWII (this must be some film or nightmare influence), the crown tango between Macbeth and his Lady, i-8z4bb9m-SKnives.jpgLady Macbeth and the long knives she hid in her boots, the fluid but brutal fight scenes and murders, the puppet banquet that Macbeth as king conducts, Lady Macbeth gone mad. The photos say it best.

WITCHES CHANT

Round about the cauldron go:
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first I' the charmed pot.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blindworm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing.
For charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd I' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangl'd babe,
Ditch-deliver'd by the drab,--
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For ingrediants of our cauldron.
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron, bubble.

William Shakespeare
from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1

i-7S8HjJs-SCrown.jpgi-VSt26g2-SWitchesHole.jpgi-GnDQ4Kk-SPuppet.jpgi-dcGjzsn-SBlood.jpg

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Comments (1)

The pictures say it all. FANTASTIC!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 7, 2011 1:54 PM.

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