Sirenos festival for theater gourmands in Vilnius

  • 2011-09-21
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

RED-LIGHT MEDITATION: The performance titled “Displace #1. La Rabbia Rossa” (“Red Range”) by the Italian theater group Muta Imago will be presented to the Vilnius public in the Arts Printing House, Siltadarzio Street 6, on Oct. 5 at 19:00.

VILNIUS - EuroBasket time was a complicated one for theaters in Lithuania. When the Lithuanian national basketball team played its matches at EuroBasket, a Lithuanian can go to watch a theater performance instead of watching a hoops match only in the case he or she has some severe mechanical trauma in his or her head. For example, during the EuroBasket 2011 of Aug. 31-Sept. 18, the Vilnius opera group Bohemieciai (“Bohemians”) advertised its performances as basketball-friendly, i.e. their performance times did not coincide with the time of the matches of the Lithuanian team. Organizers of the eighth annual Sirenos International Theater Festival knew about the basketball issue: the festival starts in Vilnius from Sept. 29-Oct. 8, after EuroBasket.

Sirenos (“Sirens” in English) has two meanings, and both are suitable for the festival’s name. The first one means the Sirens, from Greek mythology – mermaids who, with their seductive voices, lure sailors to shipwreck on the rocky coast of these sirens’ island. Another meaning is now the much better-known sounds, i.e. those from emergency medical service, police or fire-brigade cars and trucks. One of the previous Sirenos festivals was advertised by these types of cars circling Vilnius’ streets and producing enormous noise. Indeed, this theater festival is seducing and attracting the attention of theater lovers of various tastes: even the actors from Comedie-Francaise, the legendary French theater having a three-century-long history, performed at Sirenos, although most of the performances at Sirenos are less traditional (though not necessarily as funny as the Marty the Landlord’s modern theater dance scene in the Coen brothers’ movie The Big Lebowski) – they are unforgettable, in any case.

This year, Caligula, written by Albert Camus and staged by Lithuanian director Eimuntas Nekrosius (he is the theater directing mega-star in Lithuania, Italy and Russia) in Moscow’s Theater of Nations, was supposed to be the main event at Sirenos, but the main actor of that theater suddenly needed to undergo surgery on his leg, so this performance was replaced with the Hungarian group HOOPart, which will show Coriolanus, by William Shakespeare. The author’s original text of this tragic drama talks about the Roman Empire, but the Hungarians made their musical performance about the lost society of post-communist Hungary out of this classical play. The Hungarian critics awarded HOOPart’s Coriolanus with the title of the best Hungarian musical performance of 2010. HOOPart will perform on Oct. 3 at 19:00 in the Lithuanian National Drama Theater (Gedimino Ave. 4).

The most famous director of this year’s Sirenos will be Lithuanian Oskaras Korsunovas, who has his own theater company, OKT (the abbreviation of Oskaras Korsunovas Theater). Korsunovas is well-known internationally. He became famous after he staged Shopping and Fucking, written by Mark Ravenhill (even the posters, with this play’s English-language title, caused discussions in Vilnius’ streets) and other plays in Vilnius as well as plays at Comedie-Francaise in Paris and other countries across Europe.

In 2006, Korsunovas received the prestigious prize for New Theatrical Reality from the Union of Theaters of Europe. During Sirenos 2011, OKT will show The Lower Depths, written by Russian Marxist Maxim Gorky. It was written in 1902 and subtitled “Scenes from Russian Life.” Gorky’s play depicts a group of impoverished Russians heavily drinking vodka and living in a shelter near the Volga River. Recently, OKT performed this play in Finland and some Finnish spectators got a little bit drunk because, during the performance, the OKT actors propose to the audience to share vodka shots with them. The Lower Depths, by OKT, can be seen on Oct. 1 at 17:00 in the OKT Studio, Asmenos Street 8. The Lithuanian critics awarded OKT’s The Lower Depths with the title of the best Lithuanian play of 2010.

OKT will also present Miranda, which is Korsunovas’ interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Korsunovas transformed this Shakespearian play into a tragic story of intellectuals suffering due to oppression from the totalitarian Soviet regime. That is why critics in Hungary and Poland were so fascinated with this OKT play – those who experienced totalitarianism can fully understand the play’s depth. Miranda will be presented on Sept. 30 at 17:00 at Theater Arena on Olimpieciu Street 3.
The performance titled “Displace #1. La Rabbia Rossa” (“Red Range”) by the Italian theater group Muta Imago will be presented for the Vilnius public in the Arts Printing House, Siltadarzio Street 6, on Oct. 5 at 19:00. This play deals with global problems such as immigration, freedom and the end of Western civilization.

For other plays by Lithuanian and foreign theater companies look at Sirenos’ full program here