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Synetic Theater’s Paata Tsikurishvili injured in “serious” crash, delaying show

Synetic Theater’s Beauty and the Beast (photo courtesy of Synetic Theater/Johnny Shryock)

Synetic Theater’s premiere of War of Worlds has been delayed after co-founder Paata Tsikurishvili suffered what are described as serious injuries in a vehicle crash.

In an update last Friday, the Crystal City-based theater company said that its co-founder and artistic director Tsikurishvili had been hospitalized for a number of days “as a result of injuries he sustained in a serious car accident.”

The injuries included “several broken bones” but no head trauma, the theater company said. He’s expected to make a full recovery and “is recovering faster than expected” but he is in need of a several-month rehabilitation period, Synetic said.

The crash was first announced in early December, but few details were provided.

“The Tsikurishvili family thanks the many people who reached out with words of support. Those who wish to send good wishes may do so at [email protected],” the update notes.

Due to the co-founder’s need for recovery, the theater’s “largest and most ambitious production in its history” is being pushed back from the spring to the fall.

The Tsikurishvili-directed War of the Worlds was set to debut at Synetic Theater in March but now is planning a fall premiere, per the update:

Prior to the accident, Mr. Tsikurishvili was finishing work on the world premiere of War of the Worlds-Synetic’s largest and most ambitious production in its history-which was scheduled to begin workshopping and rehearsals immediately after the holidays. In order to give him the time and space to focus on his recovery, War of the Worlds, slated to open March 3, 2023, will be postponed until Fall 2023 (precise dates to be announced).”

The production is based on the famed 1897 H.G. Wells story about an alien invasion of Earth and the threat to humankind. The sci-fi tale has been continuously adapted over the last century, including by Steven Spielberg for his 2005 movie starring Tom Cruise. Synetic is now set to adapt it into a physical, wordless stage production.

“In [this] latest iteration, War of the Worlds leaps off the page and onto the stage through Synetic’s wordless Physical Theater style and its signature immersive, multimedia production design,” reads the website’s description.

In the show’s place, a revival of the 2014 production Beauty and the Beast will now take the stage in March. It’s being choreographed by the other half of Synetic’s husband-and-wife founding duo, Irina Tsikurishvili, and directed by managing director Ben Cunis.

The show will run until April 2 and the theater warns the show is for ages seven years or older.

“This production of Beauty and the Beast contains fantasy violence and may be scary to younger children,” the theater warns. “Parental guidance is advised. Please note that this is not the Disney musical.”

Known for its physical and nearly wordless theater, Synetic Theater first moved to Crystal City from Rosslyn in 2010. It nearly lost its lease at 1800 S. Bell Street in 2018 but building owner JBG Smith backtracked and agreed to let them stay. Like many performing arts venues, Synetic ceased live performances for more than a year during the pandemic.

In October, the theater debuted a “bloody” adaption of Dracula. Directed by Tsikurishvili, it turned out to be the last show he will likely direct for at least a year.

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