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Black Sea Blog – Pete Brooks

27th January 2015 by Morven Macbeth

While Simon and Crofty put the finishing touches to the digital design for Mist in the Mirror at Oldham Coliseum, we are in Batumi, Georgia’s second biggest city, we being Pete, Morven, and Will Simpson who is covering for Simon. We are collectively overseeing the restaging of our old show The Zero Hour in Georgian at the State Musical Center. It’s a much postponed project that was supposed to have happened last summer, and it’s the culmination of a relationship with the British Council here that began four years ago when we visited the Tbilisi festival with Hotel Methuselah.

Georgia is by far the most attractive of the post-soviet republics that we have visited. Both the architecture and the food are distinctive and as usual we have been made very welcome by both our Georgian hosts and the British Council here. Batumi is on the Black Sea coast and for the moment at least the weather is sunny, warm and much like an English spring.

Needless to say the working situation isn’t completely straightforward. Goga, who is directing the project, is a well known and highly experienced director, and in many ways we would prefer to just leave him to it, but we are here to give advice and to offer opinion and so we do. The resources are good and everyone is supportive and enthusiastic. Language is a barrier as one might expect, but we have excellent translators and so it is really no more than an inconvenience. We have 10 days to opening night and everything is going more or less smoothly.

The theatre is quite extraordinary, a typical soviet palace of culture. It is a riot of gold leaf and red velvet, and one is reminded that the Soviet ideal was of High Culture for the masses. It compares starkly with the way in which culture has become polarised in the UK with one kind of art packaged for the upper and middle classes and another, popular culture or community art for the rest.

It’s time to get back to work so, if anyone has, thanks for reading and we’ll try to keep you up to date with developments here.

Pete Brooks

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