2022 05 19

On May 17–22 Klaipėda Drama Theater was bustling from, one performance was followed by another. The first week of the international theatre festival “TheATRIUM” was dedicated to the Lithuanian theatre showcase. Theatre professionals from different countries have come to Klaipėda to attend no less than 14 performances.

The guests aren’t ordinary spectators, but representatives of various theatres and theatre festivals from abroad, cultural exchange organizations, theatre academics and managers – their goal is to get to know Lithuanian theatre performances, to establish relationships with these theatres and some particular directors. “We have approved the conditions of the theatre showcase, objective aspects are the following: the performance has to be no more than 3 years old, it has to have a final version and should be meant for adult audience, subjective aspects are to be evaluated by the board. Since the board consists of the specialists of various fields, close attention is paid to what can interest foreigners, what can attract audience in Klaipėda, what productions can be brought abroad, what is exceptional and what can represent diversity in the programme”, – says Head of Cultural Affairs & Customer Service Department of Klaipėda Drama Theatre Kristina Žiogaitė, listing the criteria, according to which performances for Lithuanian theatre showcase were selected.

Foreign scouts were shown productions staged in different Lithuanian cities, two or even three performances a day. According to K. Žiogaitė, the idea was to present the widest possible spectrum of performing arts to the guests, “the field of theatre is very wide, lots of various festivals are happening, so we target the broader audience, trying to please different tastes. Theatre stage is borderless and our mission is to not draw borders in the wrong places”.

“Basically I know nothing about Lithuanian theatre, – admits Tzi-Yu Hung, who came to Lithuania from Taiwan for the first time. – I’m currently working at the theatre in Taipei, we once invited a Vilnius City Theatre to Taipei, but it was back in 2017. When observing the development of ties between Lithuania and Taiwan, we are thinking of renewing the communication and creating more opportunities for cultural exchange – and that’s why I’m here. I’m curious to get to know Lithuanian theatre and your programme seemed very interesting, containing lots of experimental forms. I also like your theatre, it’s nice to be here”.

Darya Antonova from Kazakhstan is currently living in France and teaching French to future theatre professionals, “my uncle was the researcher of Baltic languages, Lithuania was his dream country. I teach French to future theatre professionals, actors and directors, so it’s important for me to know how to prepare them, I have many students from the Baltic states and we have to have common ground, common language, I prepare them not for a day-to-day life, but for a life in the theatre, their professional sphere. I am here to see theatre life in Lithuania, to understand what technologies I can borrow for my language lessons with my students”.

Albena Tagareva from Bulgaria is attending “TheATRIUM” for the second time, “my first time here was in 2019 – it was also my first visit to Lithuania, I was completely charmed by the showcase programme, up to this day I’m still telling my colleagues about the dance performance “Times of the Year” and a comic opera “a”. The plays I’ve seen during this visit, “Othello” by O. Koršunovas and today’s “Phaedra’s Love” and “Boris Godunov” are really powerful too, with great actors and set design. The other thing I’ve noticed is what a wonderful audience you have, how many people attend the performances and how engaged they are. It’s amazing, especially after a two years break. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the programme’s events”.

Anna Wolek from Poland is not new to Lithuanian theatre, “I’ve seen quite a few Lithuanian performances during the “Kontakt” festival in Toruń. Also my theatre has been communicating with a theatre in Vilnius, they came to visit us. When I received an invitation from Klaipėda, I figured it was a nice opportunity to get to know this part of Lithuania as well. I have just arrived, but I can immediately recommend everyone coming to Lithuania to not miss Klaipėda and pay it a visit. I was really looking forward to productions by Polish directors, but I’m really interested in Lithuanian productions as well – your theatre is very metaphorical and magical, you are slightly different from us”.

Jay Wegman from New York told that he is familiar with Eastern European theatre from a young age, so he was really looking forward to his visit in Klaipėda and having high hopes for the festival, “my theatre was communicating with your state’s National Theatre, we were arranging a tour for Krystian Lupa’s performance in our country, but then the global pandemic hit and we were forced to put our plans on hold. When the opportunity to visit Klaipėda presented itself, I had to take it. It’s a great chance to see many different performances in one place in short time. I came and I couldn’t be happier – it’s been only a couple of days, but I’ve already seen some brilliant performances. I’m really looking forward to see the rest of the showcase. Lithuanian theatre is very metaphorical, experimental, which really interests me, since such theatre can rarely be found in New York, our theatre is more realistic”.

“TheATRIUM” has welcomed a wide range of professionals – from neighbouring Latvia and Poland, from Sweden, Georgia, Taiwan, USA, France, Germany, Serbia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Italy, Greece, Pakistan and Nigeria. “This year’s experience shows that we’ve gathered very interesting representatives of many different spheres. We try to form a bond with each and every one of them, so we are extremely happy that some of them have chosen to come here for a second time. We work really hard to please our guests from abroad with not only a rich programme, but with attention too. With the help of tour guides we have introduced our guests to our city’s cultural heritage, we’ve arranged a trip to Palanga. We are so happy that our sponsors understand the importance of such bond, because most of the services we get thanks to them – we offer our guests drinks, fresh pastry and fruit, organize convenient logistics”, – sums up the effort to provide the most comfortable conditions theatre and festival representative K. Žiogaitė.