“Pirosmanic memoirs about the unshod flea”
Nodar Dumbadze Youth Theatre from Tbilisi

Yesterday, under the auspicious welcome of Theatre A Parte and within the cultural framework of the Second International Theatre Festival “Klein Aber Fein” I watched the sparkling performance by the Youth Theatre named after Nodar Dumbadze. This theatrical team is from Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. And now I am narrating in the present tense.

The name of the play is “Der Floh und die Ameise” (in English language: “The flea and the ant”). Thespian moorage locus: Theatre A Parte, Annenstrasse 20A, 58453 Witten. Date: 09.07.2022. Number of actors, creating the play: four.

And I would like to thank all the four servants of Melpomene, one actress and three actors, from Tbilisi for this warming, sweetly nostalgic, humorous and creative matinee in Witten. Many positive epithets can be used to describe this performance.

“Innovative and inventive” might be just the two of them. For example, I liked very much the episode with the cow’s udder. How it was created, inflated and “milked” from the white resinous glove. And the whole acting tempo of this scene was very involving. The children and the adults alike in the audience laughed and were giving appreciating beholding applause. I wasn’t the exception!

The whole play did consist from seven, or eight mise-en-scènes. Actually, I was so carried away by the performance, that I stopped counting the alternating episodes. Also, the indication of the fact, that the acting on stage, its lyrics, does compel You forgetting about mundane matters.

The language of the “Der Floh und die Ameise” is Georgian. And in the dialogues, unrolling on stage, I was able to comprehend only two words “Gomarjoba” and “Batono” (“Hello!” and “my friend”, if I am correct). But not withstanding all these linguistical vicissitudes, of not being able to understand Georgian language, most of the spectators, undoubtedly, would be able to feel the atmosphere of this puppet, drama, chamber staging. To understand its intrinsic Georgian, quintessentially Pirosmanic aura. Observing the lights and the mild, soothing colours of several mise-en-scènes in “Der Floh und die Ameise” I recollected the paintings by Niko Pirosmani. The ones I saw in the Fine Arts Museum of Tbilisi and at the Sighnaghi National museum in Alazan valley. If You are in Georgia – Gruzia visiting these cultural establishments is the absolute MUST!

...And, again, attending this play, I reassertingly came to the conclusion, that the language of the staging is not necessary the key element of the dramatis medium. Although, of course, I like many other spectators was quite curious, what the actors were talking about. ...But.. the gestures, the mimics, the voice chords, sometimes comedian, sometimes even, probably, satirical did construct the crystally clear bridge of understanding between the odeum and the stage. These seventy plus minutes, marvellously directed by the theatrical maestros from Tbilisi, Dimitri Khvitisiashvili and Gia Margania, did establish the unmistakably mutually respectful understanding between the performance troop and the public in the chamber box. And I would not be afraid, probably, repeating myself: the warm, humorous, expressive aura of this play was truly amazing! And it was also very musical and very dancing!

I didn't enquire, but it quite might be, that part of this troop, probably are, or could have been, the professional dancers. The foot posture on stage and the professional foot wear of this Thespian ensemble did prompt me to think so.

By the way, I also liked quite a lot the eyes play by the actors.

And at this given moment of time I would allow myself to say several words about the music and the costumes of the “Der Floh and die Ameise” play.

I was so pleased to hear the tunes of Chardosh, also the melodies, which, probably, date themselves back to the times of Gruzia Film (“Грузия Фильм”) of the 1970s and 1980s. The times, when all of our Family, did wait with the great excitement and attention for the evening presentments of the Gruzia Film’s lovely, sweetly witty short films – featurettes. Comedies by Gruzia Film – these were very important and beloved televised events for the whole of our Family!

I hope, that the readers of this epistle of mine would allow me this lyrical digression. As the “Der Floh und die Ameise” personally for me were the transiently harmonious moments of nostalgic recollections about my Family in the 1970s and 1980s... When my Liebe Mutti and all my Grandmas and Grandpas were in this world, side by side with me. And for those minutes and seconds I also would like to express my indebtedness to this play and the whole theatrical team from Tbilisi! Thank You very much!

As I’ve mentioned already the theme of gestures, mimics, plasticity and dancing in this staging, I decided it would be appropriate to bring into the spotlight one more gesticulating detail of this performance. Namely, in one of the episodes the hand of one of the actors started purportedly and slightly shaking... And this Theatre came from Tbilisi, the birthplace of Georgij Aleksandrovich Tovstonogov. The city, where He commenced His theatrical way. And observing this slightly shaking hand in the “Der Floh und die Ameise” I started thinking about the very well-known play, called “Energetic People”, staged around the year 1984 at BDT, Большой Драматический Театр in Leningrad (nowadays Saint Petersburg). Georgij Tovstonogov was the Artistic Director of BDT at those times. “Was He ever creatively cooperating with the Nodar Dumbadze Youth Theatre from Tbilisi?” – I was pondering after observing about three seconds of this shaking hand. In the “Energetic People” Yevgeny Lebedev brilliantly and very humorously acted in this monologue in 1984. I remembered this scene very well; it became one of the most emblematic symbols of the Melpomene Art for me.

...My Dear Mama in the 1980s, when I was still at school gave me to read “thick” magazine with the story by Nodar Dumbadze. I read it really quickly and afterwards read several more works by this Author. Very warm, human, empathy filled literary creations, full of Sun and the wisdoms of everyday human relationships. Nodar Dumbadze lived in Tbilisi and created his works in Tbilisi. And this “sparkling performance” of this eponymous theatre, as I had characterized it in the aforementioned lines, is as sparkling and refreshing as the bubbles of Borjomi water, as the Logidze waters and Tarhun’s effervescent fizzing.

For Her Jubilee my Liebe Mutti wanted to make a trip to Tbilisi. These sweet memoirs of several years ago are still very fresh in my recollections. We together strolled the streets, went to museums, made some sightseeing trips, visited theatrical performances... It was a very lively and lovely journey. It was our last trip together...

Let The Soul of my Dear Mama be in Garden of Eden!

The root word “Tbeli” in Georgian language, if to translate it into the other tongues of the world, would mean “warm”. And the acting team from Tbilisi, Youth Theatre named after Nodar Dumbadze, indeed, made this slightly, cloudy, a little bit rainy time of the day welcoming and very warm for me. Not only theatrically, but, first of all, humanly warm! “Tbeli” means “warm” in Georgian language.

Highly Esteemed International Theatre Festival “Klein aber Fein”, thank You very much for accommodating me as Your guest. Your welcome is very gladdening and very warm too! I would like to express my big gratitude personally to Katja Beil and Boris Schwarzmann, who are the creative brain and engine of the Theatre A Parte in Witten in Annenstrasse 20A.

And, of course, to the stage directors of the “Der Floh and die Ameise”, Dimitri Khvtisiashvili and Gia Margania. It would be quite interesting to follow the stage oeuvre of these two regisseurs. Also from the view point that, probably, in the future scenic transfigurations of this play the flea might get shod. Id est get the horseshoe on its leg. As we all very well know, it was done by Cross-eyed Lefty arms craftsman from Tula! And, as for me, a Tulovite, it would be quite interesting to learn, when it can be done in Tbilisi?!

Yours Intrepid Thespian correspondent,

Pinkhas-Peter Friesen

Highly Esteemed Readers of this essay:

As I mentioned earlier, the performance “Der Floh und die Ameise” by Nodar  Dumbadze Youth Theater from Tbilisi did invoke numerous recollections about the artwork of Nico Pirosmani. And I have decided to bring to Your attention the Poem "Niko", written by Boris Abramovich Sluzkij. Quite many years ago I translated it into English language. 

Sincerely Yours, Peter Friesen 


“Niko”. Boris Abramovitch Sluzkij
translated by Pinkhas Friesen

 He didn’t have to forget.

The gossips and conjectures were enough – “all right”.

But nails, the nails should have their heads pinned set,

So that the signs on taverns would be holding tight.


Unworried… shouldn’t be thought, that the sundown – afterglow

Like by Monnet, the famed sunsetter.

But order must be done, then “dough”…

And afterwards from client to receive the money.

(Being go – getter…)


For this wee money 

                 ate and drank 

Partook a little, drank in plenty.

The flabbiness in art was not his rank.

(Akin of being choosey dainty…)

Good Georgian was Pirosmani.