Daria Papba | Ekho Kavkaza -- World Theatre Day is celebrated on 27 March. But in conditions of mass-quarantine, due to the epidemic of coronavirus, theatres had to look for new ways to celebrate, excluding direct involvement of the audience. The Samson Chanba Abkhazian State Drama Theatre celebrated its professional holiday by launching the Radio-Theatre. As part of this project, a series of lectures will be published that tells about the Theatre’s past and present.
The “Radio-Theatre” was launched on the online-platform SoundCloud. The aim of the project is to acquaint fans of the Abkhazian State Drama Theatre with the history of its creation and development through the stories of theatre-experts and actors. Theatre-workers plan to produce one audio lecture per week.
The general director of the Abkhazian Theatre, Nodar Chanba, spoke in more detail about the project: “The plan for a Radio-Theatre has long been ripening. The "Radio-Theatre" is where we want to talk about the great traditions of our theatre, about the emergence of theatre in Abkhazia, about the actors. We have a great history; over the course of more than 90 years of our Abkhazian theatre has staged a huge number of productions; there have been many outstanding people who make up the glory of our theatre. Of course, today we have both directors and actors, and we would like our audience to know about them too. Now we have quarantine, and nothing is happening on the stage, and so we decided to use the quarantine-time productively.”
Nodar Chanba was the first to give an audio-lecture as part of the project on SoundCloud. During the hour-long introductory lecture, students learned about how the theatre came into being in the early1910s and in what format it worked until the middle of the 20th century, when the first professional Abkhazian director Nelli Eshba arrived there.
Nodar Chanba began the audio-lecture as follows: “The history of the Abkhazian theatre until the 60s of the XX century can be conditionally divided into three periods. Firstly, this is the story of French citizen Iakim Mikhailovich Aloiz, who built a large theatre in Sukhum on the eve of the revolution. Secondly, this is the creation by Dmitrij Iosifovich Gulia of the mobile theatre-troupe that grew into the Abkhazian Drama Theatre. The third story is connected with the name of Nelli Rozhdenovna Eshba: for a short period of time, she staged at the Abkhazian Theatre many performances in her individual romantic style. Three destinies – that of the merchant Aloiz of the first guild, that of the national enlightener Gulia, and that of the first professional national director Eshba - at different times and under different circumstances crossed over the theatrical "square" so that one day a unique theatre would be born and set up which was destined to carry the exceptional mission of being the flagship of national culture.”
The second audio lecture will be devoted to the life of the Abkhazian Theatre during the Great Patriotic War. About this and future topics of the project, Nodar Chanba said the following: “This year is 75 years since Victory Day, and I think it would be nice to come back and talk about the Abkhazian theatre and Abkhazian music in 1941-1945, which they experienced in their lives at that time. Further, of course, will be the performances of our actors, who will read verses of Abkhazian poets, and maybe some other compositions, and excerpts from novels and short stories.”
A pleasant bonus was that the first lecture of the Radio-Theatre was in Russian. The Theatre, which functions in Abkhaz, decided to speak about its history in Russian so that as many listeners as possible had access to this project. Nodar Chanba hopes that the “Theatre” will develop and eventually grow into radio-shows.
This article was published by Ekho Kavkaza and is translated from Russian.