„Tartuffe“ selected for the Avignon festival

Last week, one of the oldest and most famous theater festivals, Festival d’Avignon revealed its program for 2018. During the press conference it was officially announced that on July 17-21, 2018, LNDT’s production Tartuffe, directed by Oskaras Koršunovas, will be played at the Opera Confluence Hall.

Tartuffe – part of the main program

Each year the city of Avignon and its environs turn into one big theater with more than twenty different venues. In total, the festival is visited by over 130 thousand viewers. This year, the festival will feature 47 shows from all around the world. Tartuffe is included in the main program of the festival that features work by the world’s leading directors.

This is the second production by the Lithuanian National Drama Theater to have been selected for Avignon. In 2016, LNDT brought Heroes’ Square (dir. Krystian Lupa) and it was very well received.

For Oskaras Koršunovas it is the seventh time at Festival d’Avignon. The first two shows by him, There To Be Here and Old Woman 2, were featured here in the early 1990s. Later, the Festival co-produced his Master and Margarita and Romeo and Juliet. Fireface followed in 2001, and then a play by G. Grajauskas, adapted for the stage with the participation of French actors.


Oskaras Koršunovas at a rehearsal of TARTUFFE. Photo by Tomas Ivanauskas.

The director says that for him to return to Avignon after fifteen years is the same as for a basketball player to return to the best NBA club. “This means very much to me. Only someone who has devoted all his or her life to theater, been in Avignon seven times and then lost it for many years, can understand this. Avignon is unique. Of course, responsibility is also huge. After all, the spectators there are theater gourmets coming from all over the world.”

O. Koršunovas believes that Tartuffe was chosen due to a new interpretation of the play: “The main criteria of the Avignon Festival have always been innovation, relevance and quality. Usually, Molière’s Tartuffe is shown through the prism of religion. Tartuffe is always the villain and Orgon is the good man. In this production both of them are politicians. For them morality is just PR. Social networks become the arena for their duel. In France, of course, Molière gets staged a lot, but Tartuffe is a rare visitor in Avignon, because it is extremely difficult to find new ways of interpreting the play. The French understand and appreciate it.”

Leading European Theater Makers

Visitors of the 72nd Avignon Festival will be able to see productions staged by the most famous theater artists. Belgian director Ivo van Hove will present De Dingen Der Voorbijgaan based on the nineteenth century Dutch writer Louis Cooperus’s psychological novel about residents of The Hague.

French artist Julien Gosselin is preparing a real theatrical marathon – three shows based on American author Don DeLillo’s works: Mao II, Players and The Names, in total they will take up to 8 hours. In 2017, Julien Gosselin’s stage adaptation 2666 created specifically for the Avignon festival won the Grand Prix at the French Theater, Music and Dance Critics’ Association Awards. In the same awards, Heroes’ Square created at the Lithuanian National Drama Theater was awarded as the best foreign performance in France.

A choreographer from Germany Sasha Waltz is another star of the festival. In 2013 she brought her dance performance Bodies to Vilnius. The audience of Avignon will see her work Kreatur. President of the Avignon Festival Olivier Py will present the play Pur Present. Swiss director Milo Rau, called one of the most controversial film and performance makers, is bringing his La Reprise.

The Lithuanian Tartuffe is More Relevant than Ever

Through the character of the hypocrite Tartuffe (actor Giedrius Savickas) who pretending to be a saintly man manipulates his benefactor Orgon (actor Salvijus Trepulis) and swindles him out of his money, Molière’s play reveals a network of political manipulations and is congruent with the problems mentioned by the festival’s director Olivier Py in his foreword. According to him, in the world ruled by finances, economics and politics, there is only one message left, “There are no alternatives”. It is like the slogan of today, the fundamental definition of political pragmatism.

A scene from TARTUFFE, photo by D. Matvejevas.

“Economics alone is legitimate, and numbers have permanently replaced letters. This supposed absence of alternative is supported by the violence of proofs and the brutality of quantitative analysis. After the horrifying financial crisis of 2008, deregulation, tax evasion, the privatisation of work, and the insanity of financial speculation are back with a vengeance, and often with the complicity of central banks and governments,” writes Olivier Py, “It is now our turn to declare that there is no alternative to culture and education. And never mind if it’s been said too often. Never mind if it’s been screamed into the desert again and again, never mind if a minority says it to another minority who hears it.

No, art should not and cannot be no more than a consolation in the face of rampant liberalism, than an excuse for tax exemptions, than an elegant and luxurious mask to hide our impotence. Art is precisely what tells us that everything is possible when nothing seems to be and when those in powers proclaim that very impossibility to assert their domination.”

The creative team of Tartuffe: director – Oskaras Koršunovas, set designer – Vytautas Narbutas, costume designer – Sandra Straukaitė, composer – Gintaras Sodeika, choreographer – Vesta Grabštaitė, author of video projections – Algirdas Gradauskas, lights designer – Eugenijus Sabaliauskas.

Scena iš spektaklio TARTIUFAS. Nuotr. D. Matvejevo.

Cast: Nelė Savičenko, Salvijus Trepulis, Toma Vaškevičiūtė, Kęstutis Cicėnas, Agnieška Ravdo, Eimantas Pakalka, Darius Meškauskas, Giedrius Savickas, Vitalija Mockevičiūtė, Rasa Samuolytė, Remigijus Bučius, Vesta Grabštaitė, Joris Sodeika.

Tartuffe will be played on the stage of the Lithuanian National Drama Theater on April 17-18, May 22-23, and June 8-9.