Guide for the 99th season of the National Kaunas Drama Theatre
The theatre welcomes the new season with a question aimed at itself and the audience: “Who are you when you’re not acting?” When just for a little while you let your mask slip and allow yourself to self-reflect.
The visual starting point of this season is portraits of the theatre actors. The theatre troupe was captured through the lens of Dainius Ščiuka. The result will be available in public city areas, while in December there will be a photography exhibition in the theatre.
A look at the season’s premieres and planned creative ventures.
A new version of “Ghetto” by Gintaras Varnas
Director Gintaras Varnas focuses his new production on “Ghetto” – a play written by Israeli playwright Joshua Sobol. Last spring, the troupe of actors starring in the play visited the ghetto areas in Vilnius and Kaunas, as well as Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, all in the effort of gathering as much documentary, biographical and archival material as possible. Gintatas Varnas and Daiva Čepauskaitė are the playwrights of the play.
The focal point of “Ghetto” is the holocaust of Lithuanian Jews. “The Jewish zone that was founded in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was still active. It and the Jewish culture were destroyed during the war. I have read a lot of books on this topic. I felt such an overbearing shame that Lithuanians were part of this genocide. You could say that I started to resent my Lithuanian roots and felt that, in a way, I could make peace with it if I created this play. “Ghetto”– and the portrayed history of the Vilna Ghetto as well as its theatre – is a documentary play that expanded during its production. The play showcases the importance of choosing what you want to do and what consequences it is going to bring: “Should we build this theatre or no? Should we participate in the shooting of Jews or no?” the concept of the play is presented by Gintaras Varnas.
Scenic design is by Gintaras Makarevičius. Aleksandra Jacovskytė is the costume designer. Visual projection design is by Kornelijus Jaroševičius. Anatolijus Šenderovas is the composer. Starring Jovita Jankelaitytė (as Hayyah), Mantas Zemleckas (as Kittel), Sigitas Šidlauskas (as Gens), Liubomiras Laucevičius (as Weiskopf), Dainius Svobonas (as Kruk), Gytis Ivanauskas (as Ventriloquist Srulik) and others. Opening: September 21st, 22nd and 23rd, 2018 on the Main Stage. The premiere is brought to you by the National Kaunas Drama Theatre together with the UTOPIA Theatre and is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Lithuania’s Independence and the 75th anniversary of the abolishment of the Vilna Ghetto.
“Ghetto”. Drector Gintaras Varnas
The debut of Vladislav Nastavshev on stage in Kaunas and Lithuania
The premiere that was planned more than a year ago of Vladislav Nastavshevs’s play “Three sisters” (based on a book by Anton Chekhov) is finally due on the Main Stage on 4th, 13th and 27th of October.
The critically acclaimed director is collaborating with the Latvian National Theatre, New Riga Theatre, “Dirty Deal Teatro”, as well as NO99 Theatre (Estonia) and Gogol Centre Theatre (Moscow). “When people ask me why I produce plays based on Chekhov’s books, I ask them why not. I don’t understand people who tell me to stop. Why shouldn’t I let the beauty of his books into my modern world? They showcase a certain time and age. It’s like we’re always waiting for something new. Yet, we still feel that just because it is new it does not mean it is good,” contemplates Vladislav Nastavshev. The director himself is responsible for the scenic design and musical score. Actress Ugnė Žirgulė plays Olga, Elzė Gudavičiūtė plays Masha and Giedrė Žaliauskaitė plays Irina. Also starring Inga Mikutavičiūtė, Martyna Gedvilaitė, Artūras Sužiedėlis, Egidijus Stancikas, Tomas Erbrėderis, Henrikas Savickis, Andrius Gaučas, Andrius Mockus and Ridas Žirgulis.
Premiere outside the theatre walls
Another 99th season’s premiere is going to take place in a sacral place. Gytis Padegimas directs a play based on “Wind in the Willows” (a play by playwright, prose-writer and journalist Algirdas Landsbergis). “This play hasn’t been staged in Lithuania. The plot revolves around Saint Casimir’s appearance to Sigismund II Augustus and his men. In my eyes, this play is very akin to the work of Thornton Wilder. Just like in “Our Town” and “The Long Christmas Dinner”, it showcases the lives of ordinary people whose fates during the war were unusually intertwined. We feel a lot of geopolitical tensions right now, so I think this play is very relevant”. This play is dedicated to the quincentenary of the victory near Polack that was achieved by the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Available to the audience in December.
Children may also anticipate a premiere in December. Director Eglė Kižaitė is staging a play based on Kotryna Zylė’s book “The Great Book of Creatures”. Another addition to the premiere series – a play by Agnius Jankevičius, based on the short stories written by Juozas Grušas. The director has been assisted by playwright Daiva Čepauskaitė.
This fall Povilas Makauskas who is still making his debut is going to start his rehearsals in the National Kaunas Drama Theatre. He’s going to stage a play based on Euripides’ dramas.
Social projects – plays adjusted to people with vision and hearing impairments – are continuing. The new openings will have English surtitles.
Tours abroad and international projects
On 22nd–28th of October, the theatre troupe is traveling to Sakartvelo (Georgia). There are two showings scheduled for the play “The Tribe”, directed by Agnius Jankevičius and based on I. Simonaitytė’s novel “High Fate of Aukštieji Šimoniai”. The play is going to be performed in the legendary Rustaveli National Theatre on the 24th of October, and in the Vazha Pshavela Theatre – which is the oldest in Sakartvelo – on the 26th of October.
The play “Four” (directed by K. Gudmonaitė) is traveling to an international festival in Germany. On 17–18th of October, the creative team is going to be part of the “Fast Forward” festival (Dresden) programme. “Even though there’s a lot of work to do on the creative production front, we won’t forget tours in Lithuania. We will also continue our art-centered communication with China and travel to a forum in Israel, as we have been in invited by the Lithuanian ambassador to Israel Amiras Maimonas.
Information provided by the National Kaunas Drama Theatre.
Photos by Donatas Stankevičius