Twenty members of the Synetic Theater Company, including fifteen actors, have left the United States for the Republic of Georgia, where they will be performing "King Lear" and "Host and Guest" from Nov. 3 to Nov. 10 at the Rustaveli State Theatre in Tbilisi.

Although Synetic has toured to New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts in the past, this trip is different. To begin with, Synetic is the first American theater company to perform in Georgia. More importantly, the Republic of Georgia is the homeland of Synetic's artistic director, Paata Tsikurishvili, and his wife, choreographer Irina.

"This is a great opportunity to tour our homeland," said Paata Tsikurishvili. "It's a big honor for us, of course. One of the best theater companies, the national Rustaveli State Theatre, invited us. We're taking 'Host and Guest' of course, because I want the people of Georgia to see Americans doing a Georgian play."

"Host and Guest" is an adaptation of a 19th-century Georgian epic poem, which explores the anger and fear that takes over a village in the mountains of the Caucasus after one of its own gives shelter to a member of an enemy tribe. The host is Muslim, and his guest is Christian, so the play refers to their differing religious and cultural traditions.

The tour is being supported by the Department of State, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Trust for Mutual Understanding.

"The tour came about because Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili, as well as Irakli Kavsadze, a founding member of Synetic, are really well-known in Georgia," said Synetic's chief operating officer, Yulia Kriskovets. "The idea of inviting the company to Tbilisi has been around for awhile, so as soon as the funding became available, they initiated the invitation.

"Synetic is really excited to have its first international tour. We hope there will be many others in the future. 'Host and Guest' is a particular challenge to tour in Georgia, since the Americans will have to do Georgian dances for a Georgian audience. But, as Irina noted, Georgians are a receptive audience. It will be a very demanding but also a very rewarding experience."

"It makes me feel happy and proud to be going back to our country," added Paata Tsikurishvili. "I haven't been there for 20 years. My father, my sister and my cousins are still there. I am especially thrilled to be presenting American theater in my homeland."