Metro Weekly

Synetic Theater’s next production is a “wordless Bible” series

With "Mark of Cain," the movement-driven Synetic pushes theatrical boundaries further than ever before

Mark of Cain — Photo: Johnny Shryock

“‘How dare you! You can’t touch Shakespeare’s words.’ ‘Imagine the Bible without text!’ ‘Imagine a meal without food!'”

Paata Tsikurishvili heard all of these and more when he started Synetic Theater with the provocative “Silent Shakespeare” series. “I loved what the theater community is doing here,” he says, ” but I realized I had something different that I was able to offer to audiences. [It] was my style, the Synetic style of physical theater.”

Fifteen years later, he’s ready to shake things up again — and directly responding to that early criticism by imagining, among other things, the Bible without text. Another wordless production, The Mark of Cain is the biblical figure’s “journey throughout history, starting from Adam and Eve and coming out and ending today,” Tsikurishvili says. “Through symbolic and then through visuals we create that journey throughout history to see how Cain gains power.” The point is to convey the perennial message “Absolute power absolutely corrupts.”

The visual play is the first devised theater production in Synetic’s history, a new collaborative work that everyone, from director to actor, helped shape, from curtains to concept. “Even though it’s a risk because it’s hard to market — and it’s not a title that drives people to the theater — I’m counting that for the long term, as a theater company, we need to do something out of the box, something more than we are to find new things,” he says. “It’s gonna still be Synetic. You’re gonna have full Synetic power on the stage.”

Mark of Cain — Photo: Johnny Shryock

Following The Mark of Cain, Synetic will offer a full season of new works. “The Reawakening” harkens back to the company’s early days, which were “a little bit dark and weird. Most of my productions in the beginning — the first 10 years, including Dracula and Frankenstein — were dark shows. I found that I miss that process and I missed creating it.”

Next season will end with Synetic’s spin on The Wizard of Oz, part of a forthcoming Synetic New Voice Series. “Those Synetic actors and artists who have been around more than 10 or 15 years, this is the time for them to step up as directors, playwrights, choreographers and creators. I see that they are ready for these tasks [and to become] even bigger artists than they are now.” –Doug Rule

The Mark of Cain opens runs to Aug. 13 at the Theater at Crystal City, 1800 South Bell St., Arlington. Tickets are $20 to $60. Call 800-494-8497 or visit

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.