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Theaters’ history    EN GR


Along with schools, theatrical performances were also considered from the outset the ideological means to approach world’s population. Therefore, the plays to be produced were examined very carefully, and were mainly of historical, patriotic and heroic character.[1] The attempt to organize some theatrical performances started immediately after the reintegration of the city, as there was not even a place since then for fun or any kind of entertainment. Georgians, who had been appointed in Batumi and had come from different regions, were gathered in the house of chief constable[2] Durmishkhan Zhuruli. His wife Ketevan was the person who created the theatergoers Club (in Georgian )[3], which staged the first performance on the 8th of July of 1979.[4] The event was extensively highlighted by the press and in Tbilisi.[5] A few days later in Batumi was attained the tour of the Georgian Theater that arrived in the city by sea from Poti. The natives reserved in the port an enthusiastic welcome to the members of the troupe and throughout the tour tickets were sold like hot cakes. A total of 3 performances were given. From next year onwards was held every year in Batumi the tour of the Dramatic Troupe of Kutaisi. Often the Dramatic Troupe of Tbilisi visited the city as well. This theatrical movement helped the Club of Theatergoers to turn into a regular troupe. Since 1882 the troupe was supported by the well-known Georgian writer D. Kldiahvili, who was appointed in Batumi, and when there was a need he participated in the performances.[6] A bit later, by the 1890s the author became director-manager of the troupe of the city.[7] Often these performances had a charity purpose. They assisted the first Georgian city school, and poor talented students. One of the most impressive events took place on January the 14th of 1894 when the entire amount raised of 3 thousand rubles was given to the Georgian school.[8] It was an evening with various plays, songs and recitations of poems. It was attended by the famous Georgian poet Akaki Tsereteli (1840-1915) who came especially for this event from Tbilisi. For the coverage of the event a correspondent of the newspaper Iveria was sent from the Georgian capital, who gave rather a professional instead of an emotional review of the event, stating that it was attended by many thrilled foreigners.[9]

During the same period, from the early 1890s there had been some attempts to establish the city’s professional theater. On that ground known actors had arrived from Tbilisi who staged some performances but this effort didn’t pay off at that time.[10] In 1904 a certain Tiurklin created the People’s Theater (at the intersection of Lermontov and Gorgiladze) which operated intermittently until 1915 producing plays in Georgian, Russian and Armenian. It is worth mentioning that in the city there was a Russo-Georgian theatrical Club that was staging various performances in the years between 1914 and 1920. The director was G. Shilov.[11] In Batumi in the early 20th century there was also the Workers’ Theater consisting of city workers and members of their families.[12]

Finally it was established in Batumi in 1912, the professional theater, third in the row throughout Georgia after Tbilisi and Koutaisi. The implementation of this project is due to the well-known Georgian playwright and actor Shalva Dadiani (1874-1959). In August of 1912 Dadiani visited the city, organized the relevant meetings and conferences and he was appointed director and manager of the troupe called “Troupe traveler”.[13]In 1913 the Dramatic Association was created headed by I. Meskhi. This helped the newly established troupe which toured at the same time in Koutaisi. Its course in the years between 1915 and 1918 had ups and downs. In 1918, after the occupation of Batumi by the English, the theater stopped functioning but reopened in 1920 when the area had already been added to the territory of the newly formed Georgian republic.[14]

Of course all the actors of the troupes of Georgia and Batumi during the reporting period didn’t receive any salaries. Their overall payment was solely derived from the miserable ticket revenues. The people of spirit were trying to cover this gap by organizing charity events and giving the revenues to the theaters.[15]

It is worth standing to the issue of the building where theatrical performances were held. At first they used the building of the Asian school (in the list of schools No 3), which could accommodate only a hundred people. In 1889 the Building of Social Gatherings of the city was built (in Georgian…….), which was burnt in 1890 and within two years was restored. Although it was one of the larger buildings it had a relatively small stage. However it housed the theater of the city for all these years.[16]

Beyond its domestic theatrical movement the city hosted during this period several foreign troupes and other types of art, such as operas, and concerts of classical and traditional music.[17]

Finally it is worth noting that on December the 1st of 1921, a few months after Georgia was placed under the Soviet regime, the theater of Batumi got the status of the Academic Theater and the premiere of the first show was held on 11th of December of the same year.[18]


[1] (1877-1920) (= Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara, 4vol. ed., vol. 3 “The province of Batumi in 1877-1920), p. 569.

[2] This post throughout Czarist Russia was called (derived from the German word Polizeimeister).

[3] (D. Kldiashvili), (“The path of my life”), (Works-shortened), Tbilisi 1982, p. 22.

[4] It is the work of the Georgian playwright Z. Antonov “Has uncle been married?” (In Georgian ). (“Essays on the History of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”), p. 569.

[5] Indicatively the newspaper Droeba wrote: “you could hear everywhere thanks and the emotion was strong… in the new country, with new Georgian people, the first Georgian performance left a sensational impression”, #144, 1979.

[6] D. Kldiashvili, (“The path of my life”), p. 22.

[7] D. Kldiashvili, (“The path of my life”), (Works-shortened), Tbilisi 1982, pp. 23-24.

[8] See detailed description of the preparations and the evening show in (D. Kldiashvili), (“The path of my life”), p. 54.

[9] Iveria # 18, 1894.

[10] “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”, p. 572.

[11] Ibid p. 572.

[12] “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”, p. 574.

[13] (G. Bukhnikashvili), (“Theater of Batumi), Tbilisi 1979, p.49.

[14] “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”, p. 573.

[15] “Essays on the history of Southwestern Georgia: Adjara”. p. 573.

[16] It is worth noting that on grounds of renewing the city, the building was demolished in 1997.

[17] See relevant details as above pp. 574-575. Exactly who visited the city and which performances-concerts were given, see details T. Komakhidze), (“Topics of the history of education and culture of the city of Batumi”), (1st Book), Batumi 1996, pp. 144-147.

[18] Details on the first performance see (T. Komakhidze), (“Topics of the history of education and culture of Batumi”), (1st book), Batumi 1996, p. 198.