The Artists' Collaborative: Reviews

Lithuanian Showcase, Sirenos International Theatre Festival, Vilnius

The fourth (annual) Sirenos International Theatre Festival took place in Vilnius, Lithuania in September. It was presented by the Oskaras Koršunovas Theatre - aka The Vilnius City Theatre (we refer to it as OKT/Vilnius City Theatre). One focus of the festival was The Lithuanian Showcase, in which selected productions from the last season of Lithuanian theatre were presented.

I travelled to Vilnius - that stunning baroque city - for the festival, and attended most of the Lithuanian productions. These may not have been representative of Lithuanian theatre; the presenters chose productions that were based on a visual approach to the theatre. Still, they showed a marvelous range of form and style. They were by any standards untraditional theatre, very much in the current idiom of the director's theatre.

The work was executed with meticulous skill. The directors' visions, whether I admired them or not, were developed and clearly realized, and the acting was exquisite, disciplined and clear.

The exception was Lithuania's Day. Because it worked in a new form, its stage techniques were slightly unsure, its actors slightly unsure. In a way, then, it was the most exciting production I saw, because it points the way to a new theatre.

One production, Fireface, was simply brilliant, an absolute masterpiece.

The plays were produced, of course, in Lithuanian; either I read the surtitles or I had read the script. This circumstance is a great help to the critic.

I talked with Audra Žukaityt?, the Director of the festival and of the OKT/Vilnius City Theatre. This is what she told me:

"We don't want to present museum values at the festival; we want to present contemporary theatre, not names that were famous some time ago. We tour a lot all over the world. We go to big festivals and we see so many interesting things. We were sorry that Lithuanian audiences could not see them. That gave us the initial idea for the festival.

"Each year we focus on a topic. This year, we decided to go back to the ritual nature of the theatre, to present contemporary magicians. Our festival this year is focused on eternal values, back to rituals of the theatre.

"Theatre is very important in this part of the world. If there are good productions, people always come. And young audiences come - that's very important. There are a lot of countries that have very good audiences but they're made up of the older generation.

"If theatre is good, it doesn't matter what language it speaks. Theatre is not only about text. This part of the world, especially, is not focused on text-based theatre, like in England, for example. In Eastern Europe - and even in Germany - directors stage plays from the point of view of the visual, body movement and many other things. Text is only one of the parts."

Here are my reports:

I, Feuerbach

together*

Lithuania's Day

Bambiland

Directed by Oskaras Koršunovas

- Steve Capra
September 2007

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