For the seventh time, the beginning of summer in Klaipeda will coincide with one of the most important theatrical events in Western Lithuania – the international theatre festival “TheATRIUM” – which will spread throughout May and June and will have what to show both: to several dozen theatre professionals from abroad and to its audience. A little more than a month before, its organizers revealed the metamorphosis and its accompanying festival slogan of the art patron Apollo who has become a symbol of this year.
The festival “TheATRIUM” – organized by the Klaipeda Drama Theatre since 2017 – consists of two large segments: a showcase of Lithuanian theatre focusing review of the production of various theatres in the country, the same as international programs that are exceptional stage artworks from different countries of the world. The festival is also supplemented by satellite events, from music concerts to meetings with theatre creators.
This week, the creators of “TheATRIUM” have taken the first steps in presenting this year’s festival – the showcase program of the Lithuanian theatre has been revealed and its tickets are brought for sale, as well as an explanation of what the image of Apollo, the symbol of the festival, and the motto “The Light Side of the Darkness” covering the whole of “TheATRIUM” hides.
“There has been so much darkness in recent years that it would be really simple to resign, stop resisting, and sink into it. The brutality of war also calls into question the role of art. Maybe art does not save nor change anything anymore – maybe the artist’s mission is just a made-up beautiful illusion? – Gintaras Grajauskas, the festival’s art director, spoke about refining the knowledge of “TheATRIUM” this year. – After February 24th of last year, many people have begun to consider the meaning of their presence on this Earth, their work. They have felt the fragility of their lives. Yes, theatre is important and maybe even has the power to change people’s lives but only for those who come to it. Books also change lives, but only for those who read them. What about those who do not care? Who believes in propaganda, conspiracy theories, and has no sense of compassion? When the dark times come around, it suddenly comes to light how many dark people live in the world”.
According to G. Grajauskas when darker and more gloomy thoughts oppress, it is more important than ever to find a balance to them, a kind of space of resistance and that space, in his opinion, is art and culture in the broadest sense, “it is the only refuge of civilization. It is necessary to believe in it. As it is the last chance of humanity – that bright side of darkness, the still glimmering divine spark that we carry within us”. This attitude, the belief that a creative person, alive with his soul, will tear out a ray of light even in the deepest darkness – has become the message – carried by this year “TheATRIUM”.
It is supplemented by the image of the patron of art – Apollo, who has eventually become the symbol of the festival. His creator – Gediminas Pranckevičius has depicted the ancient god in the depth of water this time. Apollo, is surrounded by darkness, his hair is tangled in nets swinging in the water, but his face is calm, illuminated by the light piercing the water. “Maybe the darkness is not pitch-black? Maybe somewhere in the dark, in someone’s mind, the light is already being born, and the strongest artwork is being born – having such power as we have never seen before? Can a creative person overcome the darkness? Can theatre stage lights overcome the darkness?”, is written in the description of festival 2023. Indeed, this light tearing through the veil of water somehow reminds the myth of Apollo’s birth on the stormy island of Delos. He comes into the world and illuminates it with light, and everything around him comes to life and blossoms. The light of creativity that replaces the darkness – is the hope of “TheATRIUM”.
This year the showcase of Lithuanian theatre will take place on May 24–28, and it will present 11 latest plays by Lithuanian creators. The main audience of the festival is guests from abroad, theatre professionals from various fields: producers of international festivals, theatre critics, and representatives of theatres. This year, approximately 40 guests are expected, and it is planned not only to show them performances but also to provide conditions for communication and become acquainted with representatives of Lithuanian theatres. Such networking is a great opportunity for Lithuanians to build and deepen international ties. For example, the MMLAB performance “Dance for an Object and Child” took place in Pakistan, in March. It was invited to three big cities – Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore. MMLAB representatives met the theatre agent from Pakistan at the Lithuanian theatre showcase of last year’s “TheATRIUM”. Like every year when creating the showcase program, we have tried to the widest possible genre spectrum and cover the widest possible geography of the country. The performances are selected by the team of the festival’s organizers, and one of the most important criteria for it is that the performance could be of interest not only to Lithuanian spectators but also to the organizers of foreign theatre festivals”, summed up G. Grajauskas, the art director of the festival. Whereas, for Klaipėda residents and guests of the city, the showcase of Lithuanian theatre – is a great opportunity to see a series of great performances by the creators of Lithuanian theatre in one place.