• Sirenos '16: KING SIZE © Dmitrij Matvejev

Vilnius International Theatre Festival SIRENOS

The word “sirens” has a double meaning – a siren can be both a saviour and a murderer. On the one hand, it’s an alarm warning us about danger, on the other hand, it is also a mythological creature that lures us across the boundary. The festival has a dual mission as well – to warn people about the dangers awaiting our society, and to lure us into the world of art.

We’re living in the society of the spectacle where every scandal gets louder than the previous one. Thus rather than creating fake warning sirens, we see our festival as a recurring phenomenon, which would pluck us out of the daily routine, sow seeds of change, and affect everyone who finds herself part of this live theatrical event.

Is it enough for a festival to present a selection of most interesting contemporary works, or does it need to capture the transformation in our society and get a grasp on the very essence of the present? As a phenomenon existing within the cultural and social space, the festival first of all must be an event. The definition of “event” includes both the element of festivity and an ongoing process, a narrative of some sort, which projects the festival as a connection between past and future rather than a point in the present.

The Formula

  1. To be a live and ongoing phenomenon, which happens to the society right here and right now, and startles it by dealing with essential problems of today;
  2. To create space for dialogue – an agora open to everybody, where multiple truths are allowed to co-exist, and all truths are in line to be deconstructed;
  3. To expand the borders and break down the hierarchical structures of genre, geography, identity, and social environment;
  4. To delve into unsafe territories, to risk it all by not being afraid to introduce young and unknown names, and possibly stumble upon something that might be essential tomorrow;
  5. To search for the missing link between ourselves, between the creators and observers, then and now, those here and those who are gone.

Artistic Programme

Although the primary focus of SIRENOS festival is contemporary theatre, we set off to cross boundaries between different arts, genres, nationalities, and generations. It is a space which belongs to dialogue and diversity, and that’s exactly why it hosts plays, performances, installations, concerts, exhibitions (and other events that simply don’t fit into conventional categories), as well as discussions, talks, creative workshops, conferences, and seminars. Within the selected program, SIRENOS gives a chance for everyone find themselves in the shoes of an artist, a spectator, or a critic – change one’s perspective. Precisely this change of roles grants us the ability to detach from our perspective and see the polyphonic full picture.

We care about artistic dialogues between the artists in our region and the rest of the world, between the creators and spectators, masters and emerging voices, because we believe that a meaningful conversation generates new synapses that change the way we think, and perhaps in turn even affect our behaviour and values.

Every year, we choose the festival’s leading theme which helps us create a context for the whole programme, for all individual plays and links between them, for the discussions and other events.

The festival’s artistic programme consists of three segments: International Programme, Lithuanian Theatre Showcase, and SIRENOS Club.

Since 2019 Baltic Drama Forum, an event designed to connect theatre communities in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, has become part of the festival. The forum has been taking place in one of the three countries on a rotating schedule, so SIRENOS has agreed to host it every three years. BDF is co-organized by SIRENOS Festival, Association of Performing Arts Critics, Lithuanian Culture Institute, and Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.

SIRENOS is member of the largest international network of theatre organisations, IETM (Informal European Theatre Meeting, www.ietm.org).

Sirenos '17: NACHLASS. PIÈCES SANS PERSONNES | © Dmitrij Matvejev
Sirenos '13: RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER | © Dmitrij Matvejev

International Programme

As the biggest and oldest ongoing festival in Lithuania, since 2004 SIRENOS has been proudly presenting a large number of the most prominent theatre makers from Europe and the rest of the world: Tadashi Suzuki, Luk Perceval, Heiner Goebbels, Jan Fabre, Romeo Castellucci, Ivo van Hove, Kirsten Dehlholm, Árpád Schilling, Kristian Smeds, Michael Thalheimer, Krystian Lupa, Jan Klata, Krzystof Warlikowski, Alvis Hermanis, Rodrigo García, Ivan Vyrypajev, groups as Rimini Protokoll, Tiger Lillies, Gob Squad, and many others.

The festival has been introducing new theatre realities and innovative artistic visions pertinent to the times we live in. Quite often these visions would push audiences out of their comfort zones, demanding them to turn their imaginations on and explore unknown territories, act curiously, observantly, and notice thousands of diverse elements in the puzzle of the contemporary world.

It is precisely this quest for diversity and the urge to find new functioning models for the world, that motivate us to expand on the festival’s geography and philosophy. Belonging to a certain nation, country, culture, sex, or language in the global world of today means constantly adding new dimensions to our identity.  Art festivals are probably the best platforms to ground these dimensions without becoming slaves to the narratives thrown at us, to look at the world through the eyes of a particular artist.

Sirenos '17: IMITATION OF LIFE © Dmitrij Matvejev

Lithuanian Theatre Showcase

Mission

The mission of the Lithuanian Theatre Showcase is to introduce the most interesting works of the recent seasons, which would look for new forms of creating, focus on new directions, and be brave enough to tackle unsafe subjects as well as come up with a distinctive bond with tradition. The showcase is here to expose a wider panorama of the processes of Lithuania’s performing arts scene to local people and foreign guests, to introduce the public to new authors, to show the works that reflect the relevant problems of today’s society and theatre, and to keep the idea of open theatre alive.

Goals

Since the very first festival in 2004, SIRENOS has been introducing the most capturing works by theatre creators from Lithuania and abroad every year. The showcase of Lithuanian theatre was born as an idea for a complex phenomenon that could show audience what’s exciting in the today’s theatre life and also collect works by local and foreign authors in a single festival, getting “here” and “there” closer, starting a dialogue with the processes of art throughout international waters. An equally important task is to invite professionals of diverse profiles so they could get to know Lithuanian theatre and open it to an international market, spreading the word about our country’s performing arts abroad, creating opportunities for Lithuanian plays to be shown at foreign stages, and fostering a space for absolutely any projects of international collaboration.

More

In the recent years, a large number of producers, critics, festival programmers, and other professionals have visited the Showcase. It is a chance for them to get acquainted with the Lithuanian theatre makers, and for local artists to present their work for international stage runners. Our years-long cooperation with the Lithuanian Culture Institute have allowed us to invite delegations of various countries to the festival, as well as independent experts that can help to develop relationships with potential international partners.

The Showcase: Curatorial Milestones

  • the form and content have to be relevant and sensitive in terms of the pulse of our time as well as contemporary transformations in the performing arts scene;
  • it should explore the forms of creating collective and applied theatre;
  • gender diversity should be represented fairly;
  • the showcase is a platform to introduce the works of young creators and performers, a microphone for the fresh voices in theatre;
  • contemporary dramaturgy and modern interpretations of classics are a priority;
  • the showcase should question hierarchies and democratisation in terms of the principles of creative work, the topics discussed, and institutional structures;
  • decentralisation is a must, aiming to present the geographically widest possible amplitude of Lithuanian theatre;
  • there should be a variety of genres – drama, post-drama, visual theatre, dance, and so forth.

Meeting point – Sirenos Club

In the context of the festival the Club is slowly turning into a place for outsiders. It’s a space to flourish for such fields of art, left on the outskirts of the theatre, as music, poetry, dance. It’s a place for experiments, interdisciplinary art, post-drama events that do not fall into strict categories of genre or style.

That’s how music left out from the productions becomes sound installation, poetry acquires the form of the performance, theatrical analysis becomes the huntfor a beast, silent disco gains the powers of a time machine and pieces of music created for concerts and bound by prefab concepts and clear dramaturgical canvas suddenly drop out of their contexts and start telling a whole new story. Sirenos Club events remix different generations, decades and fields of art and invite theatre audience to dive into interdisciplinarity.

Sirenos '16: HAVE A GOOD DAY! | © Dmitrij Matvejev

History

After Lithuania’s first international theatre festival LIFE stopped in 2000, there was a growing need to have a platform to present international theatre works in Lithuania. This vacuum was filled by SIRENOS, – in 2004 the first edition of the international theatre festival in Vilnius took place. Its mission was to ensure the exchange of ideas and theatre work between Lithuania and the global theatre scene, to show “a different side of theatre” to the local public by bringing over innovative pieces from internationally acclaimed theatre artists who have shaped the new reality of theatre.

Over the last decade, the ground breaking program of Sirenos introduced the country to such celebrated artists as Tadashi Suzuki, Luk Perceval, Heiner Goebbels, Jan Fabre, Romeo Castellucci, Ivo van Hove, Kirsten Dehlholm, Árpád Schilling, Kristian Smeds, Michael Thalheimer, Krystian Lupa, Jan Klata, Krzystof Warlikowski, Alvis Hermanis, Rodrigo García, Ivan Vyrypajev, international collectives Rimini Protokoll, Tiger Lillies, Gob Squad, and others. Now in its second decade, the festival keeps its promise to observe and react to the changing vibes in Europe, the transformations of social structures, and how these factors affect the changes of the theatrical reality. During the recent years, Lithuanian audiences had the chance to see the works by globally known European creators of contemporary theatre; collaborating with partners allowed SIRENOS to get the new faces of this field to the spotlight, not to mention the annual, free educational and context-expanding events: creative workshops, conferences, movie screenings, acting masterclasses, discussions, and special texts introducing readers to the achievements of European theatre. The festival is purposefully working towards constantly showing Lithuanian theatre productions to foreign experts, boosting cultural export and multi-national cooperation, fostering strong partnerships, and having the most interesting stage works of Lithuania presented at the showcase.

Artistic Board


Honorary Member
Oskaras Koršunovas

Members
Ana Ablamonova
Elona Bajorinienė
Rita Naujokaitytė
Dovilė Zavedskaitė
Audra Žukaitytė

Artistic Directors

  • Elona Bajorinienė
  • (2004-2007)
  • Audra Žukaitytė
  • (2007-2018)
  • Viktorija Ivanova
  • Kristina Savickienė
  • (from 2018)

Organizer

Tickets