Over thousands of years, Georgia has been occupied, controlled, and savaged by every major power in history. As a stepping stone between West and East, the Georgian people have had the fight for freedom in their blood. In 1989, the protests were at their height. Paata split his time between studying at the University of Film and Stage and being a professional actor with the Pantomime Theater. He remembers seeing people rushing past the theater, growing in numbers each day, protesting communism. Paata joined a massive hunger strike at the foot of Parliament demanding independence, a free election, and to be out from under the foot of the Russian superpower. The hunger strike worked, and Georgia had its first free election. However, the Soviets didn’t recognize Georgia’s independence. They came with tanks and soldiers to force the people into submission, and Paata and his friends became guerrilla fighters overnight.
When Paata met dancer and actress Irina (Ira) Kvetenadze, they remained hopeful and rebellious. But shortly after their son Vato was born in May 1991, daily life began to fall apart. By September, the Soviets had cut off the electricity and gas, sending Georgia into cold and darkness. With no running water, Ira would walk with her infant son down nine flights of stairs to gather snow to boil for water, then made her way back up the stairs with a bucket in one hand and her baby in the other. While she focused on feeding their baby and keeping him warm, Paata focused on staying alive. The local police turned into a corrupt militia, the Soviets pushed through the streets, and the guerrilla fighters who had worked as teams turned into gangs and waged war against each other. Paata recalls having friends shot out from his embrace, Ira remembers stepping over bodies on the street, and Vato’s first memories are gunshots and hunger. With the Pantomime Theater, Paata sought safety in Germany; in Georgia, men were the targets of warfare. In 1995 Paata collected his family and fled to the United States.
Landing in the DC area, Paata and Ira busked on the street, passing the hat for money to buy food. Neither of them spoke English, but they began memorizing the dialogue of plays. They sought out other immigrant artists and eventually co-founded the Stanislavsky Theater Studio with Andrei Malaev Babel, a Russian artist, and director with a background in Russian physical theater techniques. With 175 embassies, ambassador’s residences, and international cultural centers, DC is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the nation, yet there was no other theater like Stanislavsky Theater Studio in the extended DC region, and it gained attention. After a few performances, it was clear that Paata and Irina were offering a signature style that needed its own grounds to flourish. They formed their own company, Synetic Theater, named by combining the words ‘synthesis’ and ‘kinetic’ – a dynamic combination of physical art forms.
Taking the Washington, D.C. area by storm, Synetic Theater has created 88 original works in a twenty-year history, won countless awards, and received over 120 Helen Hayes nominations. Vato has become a powerhouse performer and director, following in his parents’ footsteps. These indigenous Georgians have created hundreds of jobs; their highly stylized vision has offered a playground to some of the nation’s top designers in costumes, projections, set design, and lighting. Synetic prides itself on cultivating an international corps for artists, some of whom stay with the company for years or decades.
Synetic has a large classical repertoire and also produces international stories never before seen by an American audience.
Synetic Theater has become a monument in the American theater landscape, known for athleticism, character-based storytelling, and stunning visuals presentations. With a large classical repertoire familiar across the globe and a showcase for international stories never before seen by an American audience, Synetic continues to deepen its reach. Synetic Theater’s artistry revolves around the practice of Host & Guest, meaning that everyone is welcome at the table, to share in the host’s meal, and especially all are welcome to create art.