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American-Georgian Reality on the Stage of Georgian Theatre

Lasha Chkhartishvili, Theatre critic
Monday, July 16
John Steinbeck's artistic world and his characters go beyond American boundaries; they are as familiar in the transatlantic world as they are for Americans themselves. The reinterpretation and transformation of older literary sources or plots is a commonly used device in the post-modern world of literature. From the second half of the 20th century it became popular to make the so-called "secondary literature". It is true that the origin of this process can be traced back as early as classical antiquity, but in the post-modern era, this process acquired a different shape manifested by the invention of a completely new plot or – the “continuation of the story" based on the older text.

Rezo Kldiashvili's dramatic text Pilon, inspired by Tortilla Flat, provides an interesting example. Its theatricality has been proven by the fact that it has been staged three times in Georgian theatres and the value of the dramatic text depends on its theatrical/performance possibilities as it is written to be staged.

Pilon was written in 2005 as a mono-play, but in 2007, at the request of the Poti Theatre and stage director Irakli Gogia, new characters were added to this mono-play. So far there are three stage versions of this play in Georgian theatres: Atoneli Theatre (directed by David Nikoladze) whose premier was held on November 5, 2005; Poti Valerian Gunia State Drama Theatre (directed by Irakli Gogia), and premiered on August 26, 2007), The Theatre of Georgian Technical University (directed by Nugzar Butskhrikidze) with its premier held on June 8, 2011).

As far as the transformation of the protagonist is concerned, the Georgian Pilon retains many characteristic traits of Steinbeck's Pilon, but the invention of a new, secondary plot added many new features to the character. For instance, he is more a goal-oriented man than a dreamer (he is confident that he will discover the hidden treasure). On the other hand, he loses his feeling of dignity and honor, though he is trying hard to regain it. After the end of the friendship, Kldiashvili's Pilon becomes more tolerant and the process of cognition starts.

The Georgian playwright leaves Pilon's many characteristics unchanged. The other traits of the character are predetermined by the invention of the new plot which is a kind of continuation of the story, a kind of bridge to Pilon's future-life. The following episodes of his life show that he becomes much more tolerant. In his monologues, we read his confessions and evaluations of his past life after 11 years. He concludes that he has not changed…

Rezo Kldiashvili's play is like a strange and unusual dream in which the way of life of one man is reevaluated and summed-up. The playwright manages to retain the traits of Steinbeck's protagonist and simultaneously shows new, unknown sides of the character. In the play the protagonist meets old and new characters after several years. Pilon's actions are limited to meeting his dead friends who look like some kind of spiritual beings. The dialogue between them triggers much sadness and at the same time provides the key to the new criteria of human values. This text is actual in contemporary Georgia where people become more and more estranged and alienated from each other in the era of globalization.