Anzor (Anzori)

Sandro Shanshiashvili (1888-1979) was a Georgian poet and playwright. In the 1900s, he was wellknown for his dramatic verse and prose. At the same time, he engaged in the revolutionary movement against the Tsarist rule and was put in prison in 1908. Influenced by the 18th century Georgian poet, politician and diplomat Besiki and his contemporary French Symbolist Paul Verlaine, Shanshiashvili was praised by critics as the most promising and the most Europeanized Georgian poet. Studies in Berlin, Zurich, and Leipzig from 1911 to 1914 brought more pronounced influence of Symbolist narrative poetry. During World War I, he joined the Georgian National Democratic Party advocating the independence from Russia. In 1930, he achieved fame throughout the Soviet Union with Anzor, an adapted translation into a Caucasian setting of Vsevolod Ivanov‘s dramatic play Armoured Train 14-69, which revolves around about proletarian idealism and heroism. Sandro Akhmeteli, the director of the Rustaveli Theater, transformed the play into a Wagenerian spectacle with a set design by Georgian artist Irakli Gamrekeli. The «left» Soviet critics immediately attacked Anzor for trivializing the revolution. In the 1930s, feeling threatened by the Stalinist purges due to his ties with certain Georgian intellectuals, he made half-hearted attempts to praise Joseph Stalin and Lavrentiy Beria (the head of KGB). His later dramas draw factually on the misfortunes of the 18th century Georgia and the civil war catastrophes. He was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1949.

Anzor, stage design by Irakli Gamrekeli for Sandro Shanshiashvili’s adaptation of Vsevolod Ivanov’s Armoured Train 14-69 at the Rustaveli Theater, Tbilisi 1930.