Games for power in the premiere of Dangerous Liaisons
“Our heroes play games for power. Their goal is to control other people psychologically and sexually, making as many partners as possible codependent. The plan is satanic. It has happened before and keeps happening today. What is different is that earlier the perverted souls covered themselves up with crinolines and head covers and nowadays they do this with public liaisons,” says director Agnius Jankevičius about the premiere of Dangerous Liaisons that takes place on 28, 29 and 31 of March in National Kaunas drama theatre.
The premiere is born in collaboration with the theatre Mens Publica. The play is based on one of the most scandalous and controversial pieces of work in European literature Dangerous Liaisons written by French soldier Choderlos de Laclos (1741–1803) and the play of the same title written by British playwright and scriptwriter Christopher Hampton. Of course, we cannot underestimate Agnius Jankevičius’ ability to reveal delicate shades of current events.
Perhaps, to many people, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ novel is associated with famous screenings Roger Vadim (1959), Stephen Frears (1988), Miloš Forman (1989), Roger Kumble (1999) and with well-known actors such as John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman, Glenn Close and Keanu Reeves. In the play, we meet charming and charismatic French aristocrats who are trying to make their boring existence livelier, plot never endless intrigues and play with other people’s destinies like card games. The author of the play Christopher Hampton thought that this play could be relevant at any time: in 1985, when it was written, everyone said that it reflected the generation of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Women’s intrigues and men’s deception never stop, and people’s relationships can still bring either a bliss or a burden.
The new play directed by Agnius Jankevičius is a story about passion, betrayal, hypocrisy, moral recession and lewdness. And it is also a story about the feeling of true love which comforts and thrills, brings happiness and pain, and can destroy you. It’s a story about freedom and responsibility.
The play is performed by actors Goda Piktytė, Vaidas Maršalka, Gabrielė Ladygaitė, Inga Mikutavičiūtė, Eglė Grigaliūnaitė, Daiva Rudokaitė, Gytis Laskovas. The role of Madame de Mertueil is performed by Eglė Grigaliūnaitė. Vaidas Maršalka plays Valmont and Gabrielė Ladygaitė embodies Miss Turvel.
“I think that today, in the times of social media and technologies which can create manipulative opinions, this piece of art reveals some archaic natural habits that have lasted for centuries. The battle between good and bad does not refer to technological development. Just as The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli is recognized as the classics of politic games of renaissance, Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos symbolizes powerful manipulations in a personal, or as we might call it a psychosomatic, level. Dangerous Liaisons brings the individual and his primitive need of dominance back to the scene”, says Goda Piktytė, one of the actors. Vaidas Maršalka and Gabrielė Ladygaitė emphasize the significance of the theme as well. “So many people around us now are indulged by their influence in politics, business and the media in any field that concerns interests and money. When looking at it from the aside, these invisible games seems horrifying”, considers the actors. Gabrielė Ladygaitė, who personifies the decent of Miss Turvel focuses on the power of influence “This is the story about the lives of common people. It represents how vagaries exercised by one person can affect the lives of other people. It also shows how we influence one another and it is also about innocence and light that prevails despite the malady that we deliver to those who are near us.”
Costumes and decorations by Laura Luišaitytė.
Information provided by The National Kaunas Theater of Drama
Donato Stankevičiaus pictures