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“Menagerie” Created for Art Director of Gori Theatre

23.07.2008
Saba Tsitsikashvili, Gori

“Once in a Menagerie” the premiere of Mamuka Tkemeladze, Art Director of the Gori Theatre, has turned into a serious problem. The idea of the performance was even discussed by the “Board of Advisors” that exists with the Shida Kartli Regional Governor. Most of them disliked the performance though they had not even seen the play. Soon, Tkemaladze was invited to the Culture Department of the regional administration and categorically demanded to submit a letter of resignation.

Mamuka Tkemaladze did not have even his own room at Gori Theater during his five-month tenure there. One day, when producer Temur Chkheidze arrived in Gori to see Mamuka Tkemaladze, the managers of the theater made the great producer to wait in the hall of the theatre. In addition, Giorgi Sauri, technical director of the theater, said that when Mamuka Tkemaladze was having rehearsal in the hall, the manager of the theater and his supporter actors prevented him from being able to work because of noise and constant arguing.

Mamuka Tkemaladze: “Zurab Chkheidze, the head of the culture department told me that the regional administration had decided to abolish the position of the art director and I had to file a resignation letter because of reorganization. However, I did not give in to this demand and the response was that they than started persuading my group and technical personnel to do so. The manager of the theater made personnel changes without having consulting the issue with me, which was illegal.”

Ilia Todadze is the manager of the theater. We called him on July 18 and he said he was leaving the theater in three days. Former regional governor, Lado Gegelashvili appointed Todadze and Tkemaladze to work in the theater at the same time. Since Gegelashvili resigned the situation has worsened at the theater; the new regional governor has placed demands on the Board of Advisors to choose a new manager for the theater.

On July 10, 2008 Ilia Todadze fired 14 people from the art and technical staff of the Gori Theater. He signed new employment agreements with totally different people. Todadze explained that employment agreements of old personnel were expired and he also wanted to reduce the overall size of the staff.

Nonetheless, as those fired state, if indeed Todadze had wanted to reduce the size of the staff than why did he employ the same number of new people in their place?

Ilia Todadze: “Yes, I dismissed 14 people from the theater because their contracts expired and I did not extend their terms of employment. The reorganization is going on at the theater and as a result of this reform many positions were abolished.”

-As far as we know, you left the theater long time ago and why did you return there again? How have you reduced the personnel when you have employed the same number of new people?

-I am leaving the theater in three days again and I am not curious about other details at this time.

Ilia Todadze, a so-called fugitive manager of the theater, was then made to return to the theater to commence a large reorganization effort. An idea of canceling double-management of the theater was also a new initiative. That means local authority decided to unify the positions of the theater manager and art director.

Giorgi Sauri: “When such an idea came to mind various groups turned out to have their own projects presented. The functions of art director and theater manager were to be unified. Initially signatures were collected at the theater where the personnel demanded to unify these two positions and Mamuka Tkemaladze was to then assume new responsibilities. Next, the letter of request was officially sent to the regional governor.”

After the local authority received the letter they guessed that were losing the authority over the theater because Mamuka Tkemaladze was supported by the Ministry of Culture and local officials would not have any power over the theater.

 Some time later the idea was condemned. It was discussed at the meeting of the Board of Advisors. Lado Vardzelashvili, current Shida Kartli Regional Governor, received a new letter from another part of the theater personnel. They requested him to appoint Nodar Mdinaradze as the theater manager.

Nontheless, the local authority supports Nodar Mdinaradze. Mdinaradze was the person who made the TV advertisements for Giga Tatishvili, single mandate candidate of the ruling party in Gori before the parliamentary elections that took place on May 21, 2008. 

Hardly had Lado Vardzelashvili, the Shida Kartli Governor read the appeal in favor of Nodar Mdinaradze when he received the third appeal from a part of Gori Theatre creative and technical staff. The authors of this appeal requested that Nodar Kvelashvili and not Nodar Mdinaradze to become the manager of Gori Theater. Instead, they wanted that Mamuka Tkemaladze remained the art director of the theater and Nodar Kvelashvili have the responsibility of being the manager.

The governor had 3 appeals on his table. The authors of two appeals supported Mamuka Tkemaladze and the authors of the third one - Culture Department of local municipality. The governor was at a loss as well, and the same was true with Zurab Chinchilakashvili, the deputy governor. You could tell by the last meeting of Board of Advisors. The Board of Advisors met 5 times in Lado Vardzelashvili’s administrative office and the issue of Gori Theater was the top one among all 5 of them.

The majority of Gori unbiased NGOs consider that most of board members were appointed based on private interests of the administration. The majority of board members are the chiefs of governmental bodies.

Zurab Chkheidze, the head of Culture Department of Municipality invited the Gori Theater art director to his chamber and forced him to write a letter of resignation. Zurab Chkheidze is the former representative of an NGO. Zviad Khmaladze, head of Gori Sakrebulo was the initiator of appointing Chkheidze the head of Culture Department of Gori Municipality.

Zurab Chkheidze invited the school principals to his chamber on May 21, 2008 pre election period and demanded that the pupils stopped conducting humor shows at schools. It turned out that the pupils had been preparing sketches on Georgian high ranking officials and this had irritated the government as perhaps the students were hitting a nerve.

On July 18 we were looking for the head of Culture Department (Zurab Chkheidze) all over the local government office but in vain. We managed to meet Zurab Chkheidze only when our organization, The Human Rights Center, spread information about what all was going on with the Gori Theater and its problems.

Zurab Chkheidze: “We did not use any force. We are now planning to carryout reorganization at the theater. There is no need to have an art director at the theater. The theater will have one manager and he will make decisions on inviting producers. We have already informed the Ministry of Culture on our initiation. I hope they will uphold our application. I did not use in my favor the fact that Mamuka Tkemaladze missed more than 300 rehearsals.”

Giorgi Sauri, technical director stated that it was impossible to hold 300 rehearsals in 5 months. Marina Japaridze stated that 74 rehearsals were held officially. The rehearsals were missed because the theater manager rented out the stage.

The Shida Kartli Office of the Human Right Center will appeal the decision of Ilia Todadze, the Gori Theater Manager with the local administration, and if necessary, take the matter before the court. The Center will demand that the Municipality administration takes subsequent steps to punish Zurab Chkheidze, the head of Culture Department and to investigate whether the above-mentioned facts actually transpired or not.

 

 

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