Directors Holly Taylor-Zuntz and Susan Thompson brought their London stage show to the Black Sea coast as part of the Giorgi Garakanidze International Festival of Folk and Church Musical in Batumi, Georgia.
In October 2021 Susan and Holly of Voices of the Ancestors presented the video of their theatre show in Batumi, Georgia. The 20 minute stage show was created and performed in Summer 2021, and tells the story of Georgian songs coming to the UK and how they came to be loved by singers in community choirs. Susan Thompson, who co-created and performed in the show, says “The story is entwined with the Garakanidze family. It is close to their hearts. So it was especially touching to share it at the Festival, which is named after Gigi Garakanidze.”
“We (Holly and Susan) made it collaboratively with singers from Maspindzeli choir. Marie McCarthy at the Omnibus Theatre offered dramaturgical support to develop the show. During rehearsals Marie identified our ‘superpower’ – being able to sing Georgian songs in three parts whilst moving about the stage playing games.”
“It was a really big deal to present the video of ‘Voices of the Ancestors, work in progress stage show’ at the International Conference named after Giorgi Garakanidze and attended by his widow and son, friends and work colleagues, musicians and ethnomusicologists. The show is so powerful that it crossed continents and connected with those who knew nothing and those who had lived through the events being depicted. All the hankies came out at the same time and all the smiles.”
Holly, Susan and Gigi’s widow – Magda Kevlishvili sang and were guests on Ajara TV’s daytime show with hosts Nino and Giorgi. Holly says “We only had one song prepared, so when the hosts asked us for another, we had to think on our feet! I launched into Mamli Mukhasa, and thank goodness it worked!” Watch the interview here.
The show featured on ‘The Art Expert’ with Dr Khatuna Managadze, a weekly arts programme on Ajara TV.
Susan and Holly plan to develop the theatre piece into a full length show, but for now they are focusing on Series 2 of their podcast, which explores Georgian polyphonic songs and the women who sing them.