The new season of the National Kaunas Drama Theatre: from classical to avant-garde
The National Kaunas Drama Theatre invites you to its 104th season, offering a diverse range of genres, including modern classical, visual avant-garde, immersive, and interactive theatre experiences. The content is designed to engage both current and potential audiences, aiming to captivate their interest in the world of theatre. This season appeals to both experienced and culturally inclined theatregoers, featuring premieres by artists such as Peeter Jalakas from Estonia, Gintarė Minelgaitė, Artūras Areimas, Aleksandras Špilevojus, Naubertas Jasinskas, Mantas Jančiauskas, as well as artists from the African continent.
“The drama’s the same: the change is in us”
Egidijus Stancikas, the general director of the theatre, affirms that this season invites everyone to seek, change and grow together: “Every period shapes its own themes, messages, and fashion. The flow of events moulds our attitudes, views, and positions. Even Shakespeare is interpreted differently by contemporary creators, as their perspectives are influenced by personal experiences, social phenomena, and values shaped by time. Theatre creators are changing, and so are the spectators. Therefore, while the dramas may remain the same, we are always changing, constantly growing and exploring.”
Edgaras Klivis, the art director of the theatre, believes that the motto of the newest season encourages one to think, challenge, and question reality. “Inevitably you start thinking about what endures and what changes. The upcoming season’s repertoire is likely to provoke similar contemplations because it is diverse and moving: from classical to avant-garde, from traditional to interactive plays, and from intellectually stimulating to emotionally resonant works. The key focus of the repertoire is interactivity and participatory, inclusive theatre, a theme that will take centre stage at next year’s youth festival “Dive Into the Theatre”. Despite the theatre’s local roots, I still hold the belief that we can maintain a global perspective and bring the world to the stage of the local theatre”, emphasises Edgaras Klivis.
Furthermore, the theatre promises to keep its strategic commitments and provide content for both current and potential audiences. “It is challenging work with many risks, but I believe that by attracting diverse social groups and individuals who, for one reason or another, do not typically attend the theatre, we contribute to the overall theatrical ecosystem. Perhaps, in the future, they will venture to other, smaller theatres”, reflects E. Klivis.
Artistic director Edgaras Klivis
Large-scale W. Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”
On September 21st the Main Stage premiere of the Estonian theatre leader Peeter Jalakas will take place with a production of W. Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, created in collaboration with an Estonian creative team and Von Krahl Theatre. In Kaunas, the director is assisted by playwright Taavi Eelmaa, scenographer and costume designer Kristel Zimmer, composers Gavin Bryars and Yuri Bryars, and video director and scenographer Emer Värk.
World-famous British composer Gavin Bryars has crafted a special musical composition for this play. The magic of the play is enhanced by illusionist Nichol Kin. For Peeter Jalakas, this premiere marks his debut in Lithuania and a return to the traditional stage after a few decades.
Avant-gardist Peeter Jalakas invokes exotic island surroundings – the power of the natural elements, spirits, and nymph characters, along with music and illusionist tricks – and creates a modern theatrical spectacle where live theatre merges with modern technologies. In the play, he suggests portraying the nameless island inhabitants as the foundation for a new and improved humanity. He also envisions a future where artificial intelligence assumes the roles of mythological creatures, spirits, and nymphs. According to art director Edgaras Klivis, P. Jalakas’s premieres in Estonia are celebrated as significant theatrical events. Therefore, there is no doubt that on the National Kaunas Drama Theatre stage, “The Tempest” will be presented in its full and unexpected interpretation. Playing actors: Dainius Svobonas, Agnieszka Ravdo, Martyna Gedvilaitė, Ridas Žirgulis, Ričardas Vitkaitis, Artūras Sužiedėlis, Henrikas Savickis, Arūnas Stanionis, Gintautas Bejeris, Mantas Bendžius, Deividas Breivė, Motiejus Ivanauskas, Kamilė Lebedytė, Eugenija Bendoriūtė, Miglė Navasaitytė, Aušra Keliuotytė.
Director Peeter Jalakas
A performance about old age from a different angle
On the 11th, 12th and 24th of November, Rūta Hall will host the premiere of Aleksandras Špilevojus’s performance based on Daiva Čepauskaitė’s play “When We Are Young”. The production features the most experienced and the most theatre-savvy actors from the older generation, from whom the director hopes to learn new lessons and gain knowledge. For some time, this premiere was presented under the working title “Senukai.lt”, but due to certain circumstances, it changed its name. According to the play’s author D. Čepauskaitė, the central theme of the play is old age. She remarks: “Some people ignore it, while others try to overcome it with the latest scientific innovations, and still, others mock it. No one eagerly awaits it, but it inexorably arrives. It often catches us unprepared because, throughout our lives, we assume it is distant, that it belongs to others, and that it will somehow miraculously bypass us. Yet, it comes and lingers, transforming us into individuals who find themselves undeservedly on the fringes of society.”
Well-known theatre names will star in this comic performance: Vilija Grigaitytė, Liubomiras Laucevičius, Jūratė Onaitytė, Inesa Paliulytė, Audronė Paškonytė, Algirdas Pintukas, Liucija Rukšnaitytė, Lili Stepankaitė.
Director Aleksandras Špilevoj
The never-ending multiform: “Snow White”
New forms and innovation are promised by the interdisciplinary artist Gintarė Minelgaitė, also known as Dr. GoraParasit. She will present the premiere of “Snow White”, an adaptation of the well-known classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, on the Main Stage on December 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The director warns that this production is not an original version of the fairy tale, but an interpretation of it and a patchwork of various themes and mythological perspectives, revealing many important and profound moral ideas about goodness, love, courage, and perseverance. It will explore societal stereotypes through the prism of gender studies, shedding light on character relationships and dynamics. “Snow White” is an allegorical story that encourages the audience to contemplate the consequences of human actions on the environment, question traditional gender roles, let go of their fears and take meaningful action.
Artist Gintare Minelgaite-Duchin
The return of Artūras Areima and a new experience offered by Mantas Jančiauskas
After a nine-year break, Artūras Areima returns to the creative realm of NKDT, where he originally began his creative and directorial career. This time, we will witness his production of the ironic play “The Reunification of the Two Koreas” by the French author Joël Pommerat. It is important to note that this play is not about politics; rather, it explores human relationships and conflicts. The director hopes to create a play where everyone can recognise themselves or their environment, laugh and wonder how to avoid those disagreements. According to the artistic director, this very popular play will allow the audience to see the entire NKDT troupe on stage, actors of different generations, temperaments and creativity in a real kaleidoscope of feelings and relationships. The premiere of the play will take place in April on the Main Stage.
In the spring, we will also have the opportunity to witness the creative presentation by the young director, Mantas Jančiauskas. Following the “Dive into the Theatre” festival, M. Jančiauskas will bring to life an immersive performance with the working title “Swamp”. This performance delves into a topic known to few – espionage and the intricate spy networks that operate around us. Playwright Rimantas Ribačiauskas will assist in exploring an as-yet-unanalysed theme. This creative duo has been honoured with the “Golden Stage Cross” for the experiential performance titled “The Filler”. The director’s concept aims to push viewers out of their comfort zones and involve them in creating new identities, actively participating in the action. Through this performance, M. Jančiauskas aims to provide a wholly unique experience for both the audience and the actors.
Director Mantas Jančiauskas
The fruits of the international project in cooperation with the African continent: a play and an art installation
At the moment the theatre is in the process of a wide-range cooperation project “Deconfining” which aims to connect Europe and Africa by creating a sustainable exemplary model of cooperation.
The term „Deconfining“ is defined as the removal of constraints and liberation. The curators of the project have chosen to transform the limitations, quarantines, and the global shock of the crisis of the 2020–2021 pandemic into a new source of creative energy. This energy aims to transcend the boundaries, walls, and stereotypes of the previous world, fostering new forms of cultural mobility and collaboration.
The project brings together the performing arts and visual arts organizations from various European countries, as well as creative organizations from Africa, including Senegal, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Burundi, and Tanzania. The National Kaunas Drama Theatre represents Lithuania, while our partners from Africa include artists from Burkina Faso and Senegal.
In the spring of 2024, a performance titled “Islands”, directed by Lithuanian director Naubertas Jasinskis and written by the African playwright Aristide Tarnagda, will be presented to the public.
According to N. Jasinskis, it will mark the birth of an original and innovative stage play. This production will explore and unravel the mundane reality of the post-pandemic world, potential post-war scenarios, new intercontinental utopias, ecological threats, and other pertinent news.
In addition, this multi-layered project will be highlighted by an art installation created by artists Hamedine Kane and Valerie Osouf, who represent the arts research platform “The School of Mutants” (Senegal). The inspiration behind their work comes from the identities and points of connection between two filmmakers, Jonas Mekas and his contemporaryOusmane Sembene, who worked in Africa and Marseille.
We can acquaint ourselves with what awaits in the spring at the Kaunas Biennial exhibition held at the central post.
Director Artūras Areima
Photos by D. Stankevičius