DRUSKININKAI - It's surprising how many times over the past few months I've heard the phrase 'I'm going to Druskininkai', or 'I've been to Druskininkai over the weekend.' It seems that Lithuanian's most famous resort town has become a hot-spot not only for those looking for a bit of relaxation in the local spas, but also for those who crave a bit of the arts in the summertime. Located only 130 kilometers from both Vilnius and Kaunas, crowds are indeed flocking to this southern Lithuanian town and this may be in part due to a number of exclusive summer cultural events being held here.
This year's arts calendar has been busier than ever before. One notable event has been a music festival dedicated to composer Mykalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis that has attracted devoted crowds all summer. And as the summer days get shorter, the Druskininkai Theater Festival will kick off on Aug. 14. This top-calibre ticket will no doubt draw even more visitors to town.
Ignited by OK Theater, Druskininkai Theater Festival will offer a selection of plays that will undoubtedly become the talk of the Lithuanian culture scene for months to come.
The festival begins with Oskaras Korsunovas' "The most excellent and lamentable tragedy of Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare. Korsunovas' interpretation of a classic has surprised even the most reserved skeptics. It follows the story of the fighting families of Montecci and Capuletti in two rival pizzerias. This is a refreshing and metaphoric interpretation of a timeless classic and a must-see of the festival. The setting has a dizzying and disturbing impact that aptly serves the director's intentions and creates an unforgettable backdrop for this well-known story.
For those in the mood for a bit of music, look no further than "Tango in FA." Andzelika Cholina is by far the most recognized Lithuanian choreographer and her dance performances at the Lithuanian National Drama Theater always pack the hall. One of her best plays, "Tango in FA," an interpretation of Argentinean tango, will be brought to Druskininkai. Accompanied by Astoro Piazzolla music, "Tango in FA" consists of several love stories, transformations of feelings and emotions in the style of tango.
The festival will also feature some international hits. Eimuntas Nekrosius, another one of Lithuania's most highly regarded directors, will bring his version of "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare to the festival. Popular singer Andrius Mamontovas will play the key role and his colorful personality is sure to compensate for the fact that he is not a professional actor. Audiences will be fascinated not only by the director's creativity in converting the text into images and metaphors on stage, but also by this unusual, and yet familiar, image of Hamlet. Nekrosius' drama is distinguished by its complex and stunning stage imagery and is often referred to as magical reality because it possesses a hypnotic atmosphere. And if you don't understand Lithuanian, fear not- it is often said that everyone, irrespective of their culture and native language, understands his shows because of his flawless interpretation.
These are only a few of the shows that will be featured this year in the southern spa town of Druskininkai. Pack the car and head south on Aug. 14. And plan to stay a while - every single play on the festival's calendar is a 'must'.
Festival programs and tickets are available at the Druskininkai Tourist Information Center, M.K.Ciurlionio 65, or via the internet at www.ticketa.lt