February 2020: Plans and Podcasts

Welcome to Voices of the Ancestors’ first blog post! As I sit here late at night in my bedroom in Oxford, listening to the beautiful voices of Ialoni on Bandcamp, I feel it’s a good time to share with the world what Susan and I have been working on over these dark and cold winter months.

On Mtatsminda, Tbilisi, October 2018. Photo by Geoff Burton

Let’s start with the basics…

What is Voices of The Ancestors?
Voices of the Ancestors is a project Susan and I started in April 2019, when we decided we wanted to use theatre to tell the very special, but somewhat unheard story of Georgian polyphonic songs and how they came to be sung in Britain.

Working with Magda Kevlishvili (leader of Amer-Imeri Ethnographic Studio and co-leader of Mtiebi ensemble) in Tbilisi, Georgia, we will tell the story of how ancient polyphony and ancestral roots have been carried through generations and are still sung in both the very brightest and very darkest moments of life. We want to focus on the female perspectives in this story, giving a voice to those ancestors who might not usually be heard.

At the International Symposium on Polyphony, Tbilisi Nov 2018.

Who are you?
I’m Holly, a theatre maker and singer from Oxford, England. I’ve been fascinated by Georgian songs since I travelled there in 2017 and went on to research them in a practical dissertation. I’ve spent about 9 months learning songs in Georgia altogether. I met Susan Thompson two years ago when I joined Maspindzeli Georgian choir in London. Susan is a freelance charity fundraiser from Peterborough, England who has been singing Georgian songs and travelling to Georgia for 16 years.

So far in 2020 we have…

Decided to start a podcast!
Part of the beauty of this story is that it keeps growing as Susan and I try to research it. Every conversation we have with a character in the story, every Georgian singing workshop or festival we attend, adds to the story itself. In order to document all our ‘research’ (read: fun), we are planning to launch a podcast later this year.

We’re still in the early stages of planning, such as working out what microphone to use and how to not hate listening back to your own voice (yes this is even true for singers and voice artists!), but we’ve got some cool ideas for episodes and people we want to interview.

In Zugdidi, preparing to perform at the First Kolkhi Da festival in Memory of Polikarpe

We’ve been working on this alongside our quest to gain fundraising for the theatre show. We’ve made lots of applications for residency schemes in theatres but haven’t yet been successful. Susan has dipped her toe into the storytelling world and liked what she found, so we’re considered going down that path. This would mean focussing on a version of the show with most likely three people, and a small amount of props that could tour festivals and storytelling nights in the UK.

With Magda in Batumi for the Gigi Garakanidze Folk Festival, Nov. 2019.

This year we want to…

Research and Development the show further. This will involve travelling around the UK to conduct interviews with those people involved in the story, working with a script-writer or story-teller to structure the piece, and getting into a rehearsal room and trying out some ideas, ready to share with the world.

Once we get all that done, we’ll be congratulating ourselves with an enormous Ajaruli Khachapuri… Like this one!

3 thoughts on “February 2020: Plans and Podcasts

  1. Holly and Susan, I look forward to discovering what comes out of this! Enjoy the journey and keep us posted 😊


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