Premiere Tower of Babel: Planet Earth/Game Over/Reset – An Epic Adventure for Teenagers
The Kaunas National Drama Theatre starts its new season with the premiere of the international project of Norway, Iceland, Hungary, and Lithuania – Tower of Babel: Planet Earth/Game Over/Reset. Opening performances will take place on August 19, 20, and 26 in the newly reborn Parketinė Hall (Kęstučio g. 62) and on August 23 in Čekiškė, Petras Dovydaitis Gymnasium. The performances are free of charge and are performed in English and Lithuanian languages. The target audience: 13-16-year-old teenagers wanting to experience an exceptional interactive adventure.
Interactive Project Nurtured for Four Years by Theatre Creators
Tower of Babel. Planet Earth/Game Over/Reset is a substantial international project developed together with artists from Norway, Hungary, Iceland, and Lithuania that are connected by the international interactive and immersive theatre network for children and youth PIYL (Participate in Your Life). In 2018, they gathered together in Hungary and met with the creators of the method, representatives from the Káva Kulturális Műhely theatre, as well as got acquainted with their creations. One of the elements of this method is to include the audience and allow it to determine the events happening on the stage. As a part of their cooperation, the partners of the network met in creative workshops in Hungary and Iceland and, in the autumn of 2021, participated in the international conference Join In organised by the PIYL in Norway (Bergen).
Intense activities of the network lasting for four years helped to develop new partnerships and implement projects at the National Kaunas Drama Theatre. “It is wonderful to know that our cooperation prompted intense creative exchange. In Budapest, we met Hungarian director Csaba Polgar, who worked in the Káva theatre, and we invited him to Kaunas. In this way, the performance Peer Gynt based on the play of Henrik Ibsen was born on the Main Stage that is loved by our viewers. In addition, we got better acknowledged with the creations of our partners as they were presented in the international theatre festival Dive into the Theatre; we also had the opportunity to show the performance The King of the Hill directed by Agnė Sunklodaitė, who is working under the same methodology, at the interactive theatre conference Join In in Bergen. Thus, we already have had many new experiences and can hardly wait for the greatest fruition of this project – the joint premiere of Tower of Babel”, says General Director’s assistant for marketing Agnė Burovienė.
Since one of the fundamental principles of the PIYL (Participate in Your Life) is to bring the theatre closer to the audience, encourage them to participate, and deal with social problems, the topics of the performance are global: environmental disaster and nuclear apocalypse. The author of the idea of this performance and its director is Hilde Brinchmann (Norway), who creates in Scandinavian countries and is awarded for her performances for children and youth. She works together with set designer Signe Gerda Landfald (Norway), costume designer Helena Andersson (Sweden), composer Deividas Gneidinas (Lithuania), and 15 actors. During the opening performances, two groups of actors will participate: in the first group we will see two actors from each country (Norway, Hungary, Lithuania, and Iceland), while the other group will be composed of actors from the National Kaunas Drama Theatre. The performance is also planned to be shown in Norway and Iceland and, if funding is received, in Hungary too.
Director Hilde Brinchmann. A. Ufartas photo
Unlike with the Builders of the Tower of Babel, Here Communication is not Lost
Having been invited to work with creators from different countries, director Hilde Brinchmann assessed the future challenge: “But they do not speak the same language and do not use the same methods! This situation reminds me of the Tower of Babel!” Indeed, the biblical motif became a counterbalance when trying to connect these four different European troupes as well as their methods, languages, ideologies, and artists. “Then I just thought that maybe we can present the myth of the Tower of Babel from the other side! This myth speaks about the fact that a long time ago all the people of the world were united and wanted to build a tower together, but God divided them into tribes speaking different languages; thus, people could no longer understand each other and started fighting among themselves. What I am trying to say is that we all belong to different tribes but maybe, despite our differences, we can be united once again and deal with our common issues such as climate change, wars, famine, and inequality in the world? Or maybe we are so worried about our tribes and ourselves that we will not be able to do this? These issues are very relevant and significant to all of us”, says the director of her choice.
For one and a half years Hilde Brinchmann worked with the partners individually: together with the costume and set designer she visited all these countries and refined the roles of each actor pair for the performance. In addition, the participation of youth in this performance is very important for the creators; therefore, teenagers participated in creative workshops with actors. The inclusion of young people and their suggestions even determined some changes to the script and became the inspiration for the poster of the performance.
The creators of the premiere seek to create an extraordinary experience for the viewers by using the topic, visuals, and the selected form of the performance game. “We want to create such an experience that you could only achieve by participating in this performance. This is the power of the theatre. You have this unique opportunity to feel everything live; it could be even compared to becoming a part of a video game, dream, or even a nightmare. It will be a significant experience since you will feel everything live: sounds, smells, warmth, and chaos. So, considering the idea of theatre without limits, you understand that vitality provides it with so much more potential than watching everything from your seat as in a cinema”, says Hilde Brinchmann.
All performances are free of charge, but the registration of participants (13-16-year-olds) is necessary at www.dramosteatras.lt or www.babel.lt). The performances will take place in English and Lithuanian languages.
The international team of the project
Partners of the performance: Bird & Bat (Iceland), Káva Kulturális Műhely (Hungary), K:13 (Norway), and the National Kaunas Drama Theatre (Lithuania).
The international team of actors: Jorunn Lullau (K:13, Norway); Steinar Thorsen (K:13, Norway); Snædis Lilja Ingadóttir (Bird & Bat, Iceland); Sigurður Arent (Bird & Bat, Iceland); Anna Boznanszky (Káva Kulturális Műhely, Hungary); András Kazári (Káva Kulturális Műhely, Hungary); Saulė Sakalauskaitė (NKDT, Lithuania); Ugnė Žirgulė (NKDT, Lithuania); Andrius Alešiūnas (NKDT, Lithuania), Kamilė Lebedytė (NKDT, Lithuania), Artūras Sužiedėlis (NKDT, Lithuania), Inga Mikutavičiūtė (NKDT, Lithuania), Marius Karolis Gotbergas (NKDT, Lithuania), Greta Šepliakovaitė (NKDT, Lithuania), Arnas Ašmonas (NKDT, Lithuania).
The performance is a part of the Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 programme and is presented in the programme of the international contemporary performing arts festival ConTempo.
The international project is funded by the open call Supporting Access to Culture and Strengthening Cultural Education under the Culture Programme of the European economic area financial mechanism 2014-2021, Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022, and European Union Programme Erasmus+ funds.
Photos by Donatas Stanekvičius
The project is funded by the Culture Programme of the European economic area financial mechanism 2014–2021, “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022”, “Erasmus +” and is presented in the program of the international contemporary performing arts festival “Contempo”.