1859 – 1910
Autobiography of Nato Gabunia – Tsagareli
“Once I wrote poems and sent them to Anton Purtseladze in Tbilisi, hoping that they will be published. Having read them Anton Purtseladze did not deem the poems worth publishing. He sent them back with a letter in which he put the blame of not publishing the poems on a censor. I also believed that and complained to everyone that my poems were denied for publication by a censor. I was about 16 years old when I was taken on the stage at a charity performance conducted at respected T. Elizbar Eristavi’s house in Gori…. After that I met Anton Purtseladze in Gori, who told me: ‘drop writing poetry, you are born for the stage…’, but my father was very much against that…. Therefore, I decided to run away from home and I went to Tbilisi with Zaal Machabeli. The theatre crew was established in 1879…. Every year, during a benefit performance, I felt calm because I knew that Asiko would have some play or literary work ready for my benefit performance…
“My father, as a man of old traditions, was not fond of theatre and did not forgive me until I got married…
“In Tbilisi I befriended several Armenian families too. Armenians were if not more, at least, no less of theater goers than Georgians. They always actively attended benefit performances. During the first benefit performance the Armenian drama society presented me with a gorgeous bunch of flowers tied with a beautiful ribbon. A respected playwright, Sundukian, also often attended rehearsals of his plays. He used to hug us both me and Saparova and say: ‘you are the souls of my plays’.
“I had many good times on the stage and bad times too. Theatre was everything for me and still remains to be such… Perhaps I am not worth of the stage but the stage means everything to me. My family, my Asiko, my praying house and so on and so forth… The god is one who I deeply trust as the god but I also believe that there are gods on the earth too, who penetrate hearts of humans, understand their sorrow and undertake to cure it. Here, on the earth, I have my gods who give me - the weakened, tortured feeble person – the power to live.”
The newspaper Sakartvelos Moambe,
issue #5, 29 November, 1909