2022 June 9
The Lithuanian Theatre Showcase, which has been running since 2004 in Vilnius International Theatre Festival Sirenos, has been renewed this year: for the first time, the programme will be competitive, and foreign theater professionals with extensive experience will award prizes to the most memorable performances or creators. The programme, which is composed annually by independent curators of the showcase, aims to highlight the most interesting performances of the last season that correspond to the vision of the festival, and to draw the attention of both foreign experts and Lithuanian spectators to them. This year’s showcase includes eleven performances selected by theatre critics and experts Ramunė Balevičiūtė and Vlada Kalpokaitė.
The Lithuanian Theatre Showcase will take place this year on September 22-25, and the performances will be shown not only in Vilnius, as it was usual, but also in Kaunas – the guests will have one day there dedicated to not only performances performances but also events of Kaunas – European Capital of Culture.
Theatre showcases are a common event in the international theatre festival market. Producers who compile international theatre programmes for festivals and stages, come to them with the aim of seeing as many performances of a particular country as possible in a short time and identifying emerging talents or inviting new works by well-known creators. Thus, the curators who make up the showcase give priority to what is innovative, relevant, and at the same time – to performances that have the potential to travel to other countries and whose field of subject is not local. This year, all eleven selected performances will take part in the competition. The international jury will award three prizes – it is left to jury itself to choose for what merits.
“The idea for the competition emerged not because we feel the lack of competition in the theatre. This was more due to the desire to know what theater experts with broad experience and perspective – producers, theatre critics, festival and theater directors – think about our theater and how it is perceived by them. We often hear that Lithuanian theatre is presumed to have left behind its “golden age”, but let’s find out how foreign professionals see it,” says Kristina Savickienė, the artistic director of the festival.
The jury for the first competition consists of 5 judges: Mojca Jug (coordinator and artistic programmer, a Bunker’s venue Old Power Station (Stara elektrarna), and international festival Mladi levi, Slovenia), Luisa Hedo (programme curator at Festival de Otoño de la Comunidad de Madrid, Spain), Pierre Thys (general and artistic director of the Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles, Belgium), Didier Juillard (head of programming and production at Théâtre National Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris, France) and Iliana Dimadi (head of dramaturgy at Onassis Stegi, curator at Future N.O.W. Festival, theatre critic, Greece).
In addition to the awards of the expert jury, the audience prize, which was established in cooperation with Caffeine.lt, will also be awarded. Viewers of the Lithuanian Theatre Showcase will have the opportunity to choose their favorite performance during Sirenos, which, along with those elected by the jury, will be awarded at a ceremony, specially organized for this purpose on 26 September.
The Sirenos’22 Lithuanian Theater Showcase Programme, composed by theatre critics Ramunė Balevičiūtė and Vlada Kalpokaitė, will feature 11 works: most of them are small-format, memorable works that reveal not only new theatrical trends, but also look for other creative forms and are brave enough to enter unsafe areas. According to the creators of the programme, one of the most important goals of this showcase was to present young Lithuanian theatre creators – directors and actors, as well as offer spectators and professionals from abroad to experience adventure, joy of discovery, to see like-minded people who are in search of their own creative language. There will also be space for discussion, opportunities to reflect not only on the aesthetic, but also on the social, political aspects of a sick, warring and often unjust world, to which Lithuanian theatre reacts in one way or another. When composing the showcase programme from performances created in recent years, curators have focused on young theater artists and tried to reveal their versatile creativity as they are the ones who are starting to form the new identity of Lithuanian theatre.
Experimental works that create memorable experiences
Lithuanian Theatre Showcase at Sirenos festival will start with the performance me two / WE, THE CLIQUE of the Vilnius Low Air Urban Theater (concept author, choreographer – Airida Gudaitė). It is a joint performance of Low Air Dance School students and choreographers about the world of teenagers, which speaks their language. The work, which harmoniously combines artistic and educational planes, is one of the most interesting recent works of Lithuanian performing arts for young audiences.
In addition to this piece of collective creativity, the Showcase will present works by the following young directors: Naubert Jasinskas, Paulius Markevičius, Kamilė Gudmonaitė, Eglė Švedkauskaitė, Jokūbas Brazys and a sound artist Arturas Bumšteinas.
A kind of dialogue with the me two / WE, THE CLIQUE is fostered by Feast (OKT), directed by Kamilė Gudmonaitė, an experimental work combining artistic and social change aspirations. The young director, who has worked with actors with disabilities, is concerned about how to integrate those groups of society that we subconsciously choose to forget. The work explores the limits of “normalcy”, the relationship between the “healthy body” and the deformities of the body.
The experience of Naubertas Jasinskas site-specific show Like Everywhere, Like Everyone (State Youth Theater) will invite you to wander around the (un) familiar Užupis. This audio walk is an invitation permeated by nostalgia and humour to have a look at the phenomenon when attractive investment prospects change the status of the district to a prestigious one and the old inhabitants are being pushed out.
A different emotional experience will be offered by the vocal performance Big Pharma (Juozas Miltinis Drama Theater) directed by an interdisciplinary artist and composer Arturas Bumšteinas. Like his other works, this performance becomes like a session of hypnosis, penetrating the listener’s consciousness and turning conceptual compositions into emotionally influential ones. Repeated like prayer, the sentences used by the pharmaceutical industry are beginning to alter the nature. The Big Pharma asks how monotonous instructions can turn into an emotionally powerful tool.
The works of Paulius Markevičius and Jokūbas Brazys prove that young theatre artists are also experimenting with classical dramaturgy. The version of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (Arts and Science Laboratory) directed by P. Markevičius becomes modern without artificial updating: it emphasizes the challenges facing the individual when personal talents on the one hand and surrounding expectations on the other are pulling into opposite directions.
Jokūbas Brazys’s Seagull (OKT) was born from the creative experiments by the course mates of the acting studies at the academy. This interpretation of Chekhov’s famous play not only reveals young people’s perspective on the modern world incapable to love, but also playfully and at the same time somewhat provocatively winks at J. Brazys’ teacher Oskaras Koršunovas who eight years ago also directed a play based on this drama.
Grand Stage Productions
Although this year’s Lithuanian Theatre Showcase is dominated by experimental small-format performances, lovers of big stage productions and masters will also have chance to be excited: the Lithuanian National Drama Theater will present the work Sleepers directed by Oskaras Koršunovas. The futuristic dystopia of Marius Ivaškevičius will take the audience to Moscow of 2109.
In the Lithuanian Theater Showcase, we will also have the opportunity to revisit the play Uncle Vanya by the Russian classic Anton Chekhov, this time directed by a Slovenian theater metro Tomi Janežič (Vilnius Small Theater). Playing with the limits of acting and theatre itself, the performance will present the audience with an emotional ode for charming losers.
Another larger-scale performance is a work Memoirs of a Young Man created by a young director Eglė Švedkauskaitė together with the playwright Mindaugas Nastaravičius, based on the work of the Lithuanian literary classic Ričardas Gavelis. The performance, in which music plays a very important role, talks about modern young people, their life choices and values.
The Lithuanian Theater Showcase will move to Kaunas for one day
Kaunas, which is celebrating the year of the European Capital of Culture, will also be the stop of the Sirenos celebration, and at the same time the last day of the Lithuanian Theater Showcase. Here, spectators will be invited to see two performances.
Latvian director Valters Sīlis, well known to Lithuanians, will present the play Frankenstein’s Complex at the National Kaunas Drama Theater. As artificial intelligence solutions become an important part of our lives, this performance is a reflection on how artificial intelligence sees us.
What forms the identity of a modern person asks the performance of the Kaunas City Chamber Theater bowel (dir. Naubertas Jasinskas), which will close the Lithuanian Theater Showcase. The performance, which is characterized by experimental acting, analyzes the interaction between identity and the everyday influences that shape it. The Lithuanian Theater Showcase is a part of the programme of Vilnius International Theater Festival Sirenos, which aims to reveal to theater experts from abroad and Lithuanian spectators the widest possible panorama of the country’s performing arts, introduce new creators, support the idea of open theater and provide an opportunity for Lithuanian performances to be invited to perform in the theaters of other countries.
Vilnius International Theater Festival Sirenos is funded by the Lithuanian Culture Council. The festival is supported by Vilnius City Municipality. Organizers: Theatre Information Centre, PI and Vilnius Festivals, PI.