VILNIUS - Theater is the first among equals in the Lithuanian performing arts world 's at least when attention from the media and appeal from the mainstream society are taken into consideration. Theater has them both, it is the most appreciable form of high culture the broader public can enjoy and understand.
The "Sirenos" (meaning "sirens") international theater festival is held every autumn and claims to represent the new generation of European theater directors 's those who have creatively matured during the Iron Curtain-free years of the last two decades.
This year it starts early as part of the Vilnius European Capital of Culture 2009 program. "Sirenos" has recently brought Comedie-Francaise, the oldest theater in France and the only one that has a regular troupe. Louis XIV established "the house of Moliere" in 1680.
Comedie-Francaise is currently touring Europe 's Vilnius will be one of their last stops. Last time they performed in Lithuania was in 1973. One of the members of the visiting troupe, Catherine Heigl, is the only one who has returned for a second time. During a meeting with the press she shared memories of the experiences she had in the '70s, when some people in the streets asked her to hand out their letters if she accidentally met their relatives somewhere in France.
This time they are performing two plays: a classical Moliere play titled "Les precieuses ridicules" and a modern Italian play by Spiro Simone, "La Festa." Bulgarian Galin Stoev directed the latter and British director Dan Jemmett the former. These two plays, classical and modern, are supposed to mirror what Comedie-Francaise is today.
The National Drama Theater will see another redefined classic play later in February. This time the show will be part of Raffaello Sanzio's theater tour. Italian theater will present Romeo Castellucci's "Inferno," based on Dante Alighieri's "Divine trilogy." Castellucci is considered to be one of the most interesting theater directors today 's and a quite busy one, with a schedule planned three years in advance. He not only directs "Inferno" but is also a set, costumes and light designer.
The multitalented artist focuses on the internal world. He plays with images and sounds, created by American musician Scott Gibbons. Image and sound actually play one of the most significant parts. "Inferno" does not visualize the sins of the nine circles of hell. It rather presents Dante as taking a wide-ranging sensual journey, emphasizing the loneliness and helplessness guarded by a constant feeling of guilt.
The play tells the story of modern urban society, exclusively based on individuals, who form a false community sense. As a result people are sad and sinful creatures, carrying a heavy cross on their back, deserving compassion.
This play is just one of the many interpretations of Dante's work. Castellucci said an artist does not serve the truth and should not see his job as similar to others. He does not believe art has a purpose, saying the only purpose the artist has is to vanish from the surface of the earth.
"Sirenos" will continue introducing the Lithuanian scene with the most exquisite works of the year this time. Don't miss it.