The Young Theatre Showcase

Illustration by Medilė Šiaulytytė

With an influx of new energy, the State Youth Theatre shifts its focus to international and interdisciplinary collaborations, seeking out and promoting new talent, and searching for a dialogue with its audiences. Black Box – a new programme for young artists – was established to achieve these goals. We think of Black Box as a primary classical theatre matrix with clear boundaries and rules, at the same time capable of becoming a space for a variety of performing arts, such as plays, interactive projects, installations and performances.

From the 5th to the 9th of November the State Youth Theatre is organising a showcase of readings of drafts of plays by young directors. We will have the chance to see four new works in progress: theatre residents’ Eglė Švedkauskaitė’s Žmogus iš žuvies (A person Made of Fish) and Ieva Kaniušaitė’s Mama (Mum), both based on Russian playwright Asya Voloshina’s plays; Adomas Juška’s Miego Brolis (Brother of Sleep), based on Robert Schneider’s book; and an experimental sound performance Kalkwerkas. Skaitymo grupė (Kalkwerk. The Reading Group), by a sound artist Arturas Bumšteinas, based on Thomas Bernhard’s Kalkwerk. We will also show director Kamilė Gudmontaitė’s documentary sound play Sapnavau sapnavau (I dreamt and I dreamt); as well as Adomas Juška’s most recent work Fikcijos (Fictions).

The showcase will begin with an evening dedicated to the Russian playwright Asya Voloshina – one of the most prominent young Russian playwrights today. She published Miršta Choras. Keturios pjesės apie Rusiją (The Choir is Dying. Four Plays about Russia) in 2018 which immediately became an event in the playwriting world that year. Mama (Mum) and Žmogus iš Žuvies (A person made of Fish, 2016) are the first plays from the collection to be introduced to a Lithuanian audience. Famous Russian theatre director Yuriy Butusov premiered his production of Žmogus iš Žuvies (The Person Made of Fish) at the Moscow Art Theatre (MXT) in 2018. Russian theatre critics named Butusov’s staging of the play one of the hottest premieres of the entire theatre season. Recently, Asya Voloshina has been collaborating with the film director Ilya Khrzhanovsky on his controversial megaproject DAU in London. Asya herself will attend the presentation of her plays at the State Youth Theatre.

In one of Voloshina’s first plays Mama, every birthday brings pain and rage for the sole character. Her mother had died from cancer when she was only a few years old, but she left several letters for her daughter to read on her birthdays. The letters begin with best wishes for her birthday but also include the mother’s visions for her daughter’s life. However, all that the mother has dreamed about and hoped for significantly differs from her daughter’s reality. Mama (Mum) is one of the most popular of Voloshina’s plays and has been staged more than once in Russia, as well as the theatres of Tallinn and Riga. I. Kaniušaitė, who organised the reading of the play alongside the actor Gabrielė Ladygaitė, has just finished her degree in directing (a course lead by director Eimuntas Nekrošius). According to her, The main reference point or word for me in thinking about this play is ‘change’. I think that the play is about the feelings that hide both behind spoken words, and all that is left unsaid. My aim in working with this material is to reveal that inner empire reigned by chaos, and to submerge myself in it and emerge out of it without gasping for air.

The director Eglė Švedkauskaitė, who trained under Jonas Vaitkus, will introduce the play Žmogus iš žuvies (A Person Made of Fish) together with actors Viktorija Kuodytė, Asta Zacharovaitė, Ieva Kaniušaitė, Simonas Storpirštis, Aleksas Kazanavičius and Matas Dirginčius. According to Švedkauskaitė, "A person Made of Fish" is a linguistic labyrinth, a network of confessions cried out in the night, leaving women’s lips and reaching men’s ears. To introduce Asya Voloshina’s play is to invite the spectator into a stretched-out time, anxiety unfolding in its frame. This anxiety is about yourself,  your own body,  your child, your country and the future? It’s an opportunity to explore the meaning of freedom, and what that may mean in an undemocratic environment. In the face of unrestrained aggression in Russia today it is bold to ask such questions, but The Person Made of Fish allows one to ponder: what is the point of going to protest in the squares, when you know the scenario of every protest by heart? When your intuition tells you, louder and louder, that you are facing a dead country, whose body was already cold before you were born.

Sound artist Arturas Bumšteinas, joined by Jonė Dambrauskaitė, Emilija Jaujininkaitė, Sergejus Ivanovas and Mantas Zemleckas will introduce a reading of Kalwerk. The reading group, based on Thomas Bernhard’s novel Kalkwerk. According to Bumšteinas, the concept of this reading is to have four actor-musicians on the stage, listening to the recordings of themselves reading the fragments from Thomas Bernhard’s Kalwerk. The text, compiled from overheard fragments tells of a book that was never started – a treatise on hearing. All the while, the actors-musicians are listening attentively to themselves, and at the same time are trying to write a song live on stage. The song is meditative, with the performers’ voices sounding almost ritualistic. Voices that obey a radio presenter, tell an endless story that never actually begins…

An adaptation of Miego Brolis (Brother of Sleep) – a novel by an Austrian writer Robert Schneider – will conclude the presentations of new work. Its director Adomas Juška, a former student of Eimuntas Nekrošius, works at the State Youth Theatre. Juška said that the play will be about a particularly sensitive person – Johanes Elijah Adler, and his relationship to love, music and death. It is the story of a person who lives, feels and finally dies without any compromise. This is a person who is able to take in music and the world firsthand, understanding the world and hearing it like music. The actors – Andrius Bialobžeskis, Džiugas Grinys, Aleksas Kazanavičius, Digna Kulionytė, Aušra Pukelytė, Aurelijus Pocius – and I are making sure that the very essence of the play is truly musical.

The spectators and the guests attending the show will also have the opportunity to see other plays at the State Youth Theatre: Vienos miško pasakos (Tales from the Vienna Woodsdirected by Yana Ross), Balkonas (The Balcony; directed by Eric Lacascade), and  Apie Baimes (About Fears; directed by Olga Lapina). All the plays will have English subtitles.

The Black Box showcase programme

Tuesday, 5 November

Reading of Mama, 5 pm., other theatre spaces
Reading of Man from Fish, 8 pm, Hall 99

Wednesday, 6 November

Reading of KalkwerkReading Group, 3 pm, Hall 99
Tales from the Vienna Woods, 6.30 pm, the Great Hall

Thursday, 7 November

Fictions, 4 pm., Hall 99

Friday, 8 November

Reading of Brother of Sleep, 3 pm., Hall 99
The Balcony, 6.30 pm, the Great Hall

Saturday, 9 November

About Fears, 1 pm., 1.30 pm., 2 pm, 2.30 pm, the theatre foyer
I dreamt, I dreamt, 3 pm., 5 pm., 7 pm, Hall 99