2022-2023 season

The 83rd Season

Many think that theatre is the art of illusion. Actually, at all times, theatre strives for authenticity and reality, yet not the daily reality visible to the eye, but the inner one; it penetrates into the depths of the audience’s consciousness where the true reality lies. Theatre happens in the heads of the viewers, not on stage. The soul is the true stage of theatre. The physical stage is just a trampoline to the viewers’ imagination. In a theatre like that, the viewers themselves are creators equal with all those creating the moment that encompasses our whole life. That is the genuine theatre. Theatre grasping the moment in which everything that was, is, and will be unfolds. That, which has not yet evolved into word combinations that transform the present into a dead canon. 

True theatre defies verbal descriptions. It is mysterious because it penetrates us, and we are the greatest mystery to ourselves. Genuine theatre is always paradoxical and of numerous meanings, and often those meanings contradict one another. They fight one another.

Such theatre becomes like a tracker of our runaway destinies and an augur of the future of society. In such theatre, the actors resign themselves to what they cannot yet name. Like a blind sorcerer who cannot see the world but sees a world of visions, which creates the so-called reality. That is why true theatre is always in modernity, because it is always in the present tense. Meta-modernism is just a word to describe our intuitions for which we have not yet found words, but which can be grasped in contemporary art and theatre. This is the kind of theatre that the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre will strive to create in this and the coming seasons. Both the audience and the actors missed this total theatre. Philosophical, directing, acting, dancing and performing, visual and musical, and at the same time a theatre that has not lost the treasure of tradition. Such were the productions of Miltinis, Jurašas, Vaitkus, Nekrošius, and Tuminas, as well as the work of our best actors, stage designers and composers. It made Lithuanian theatre famous all over the world.

Times have changed and theatre will be – and is – different. But the essence remains the same from the times of Antiquity or Shakespeare. It is true that time brings new moral and aesthetic challenges to theatre, but that is how it has always been. The tectonic shifts of time either calmed down or intensified, and the theatre, like a barometer, sensed it immediately. It must sense it now, too. We live in the times when technologies are changing our habits and our consciousness. Economic perturbations, an ecological catastrophe, a demographic explosion, and now a horrible war. The world is hanging on the brink of self-annihilation. Theatre cannot be indifferent to this, yet it should speak about it in its own language, by penetrating the causes and not the consequences.  That is how it differs from other media, social networks, mass media, and television. And even from cinema, which claims to be a substitute of our imagination. Actually, it is theatre that creates our imaginations.

Belles lettres is not the theatre language either. Theatre is not supposed to provide answers. It should give the emotion, which later, in the freezers of our consciousness, transforms itself into wisdom. In recent years, theatre, which has always synthesised in itself a variety of genres, started experimenting a lot and broke down into separate parts. Contemporary dance, circus and opera, literary and performative theatre, theatre of sensations, documentary, post-drama, meta-modernistic, and so on. Obviously, all that is not happening by chance. Such are the trends of time. Yet theatre, preserved like a cake, has fallen gravely ill. The new trends yell that there is no need for the director, the actor, or the audience. A process as an end in itself, for a small grant, is enough. Yes, there may be a need for this too, but this façade of ‘pure’ art hides the death of theatre. Theatre needs full blood. It must get it all back into itself again. The work of a good director does not interfere with collective creation. On the contrary: good directing is always charged collective creation.

The art of mimesis is not a deception, but a manifestation of truth. Theatre must encompass everything: dance, circus, performativity, sensations, music, latest technologies, and scientific discoveries. Unlike many countries once famous for their theatre, we have not lost our theatre and we have not lost our audience. We still have the repertoire theatre, and it is a great value. We must preserve it by nurturing the art of directing and acting, without losing the true and unique language of theatre. We still have an audience who are not afraid of ‘heavy’ theatre. The hope for theatre criticism, which will play an extremely important role in this process, is still alive. It demands work, and this work differs from what has been done recently. Regular rehearsals, and not just of new plays. Only then will the theatre company mature creatively. We need to stop rushing, we must find time to advance the profession, organise creative workshops, seminars, and readings of the new drama, participate in festivals, and organise them ourselves. We must invite young directors and actors without depriving the veterans of their opportunities, so that there is a synergy between generations. Invite the best Lithuanian and foreign directors. Staging the classics is essential. In a modern way. Because it is the modern productions of the classics that place us today in the cothurni of eternity. Staging the most contemporary dramaturgy along with the classics. As I have said on a number of occasions, the classics should be staged in a modern way, and contemporary dramaturgy in a classical way, in other words, theatre should strive for universality.

As in the time of Shakespeare, nowadays old traditions clash with new modernity. Some want to go back to the nineteenth century, while others desire to deck out the twenty-first century. Traditional values – the nation state, religious fundamentalism, the traditional family, the local economy and culture – are clashing with a global world that is driven by completely different laws, foundations, and values. Inevitably, this cultural and social clash becomes the essential theme of theatre, and, again, theatre must reveal it. Not superficially, not on a horizontal plane, but in vertical probes. While keeping the traditional world in the field of vision, theatre cannot bypass the new themes: the evolving new ethics and moral imperatives, the new communality, feminism, minorities, LGBT+, and many other things that are emerging in the new times.

Populism, which carries so much evil these days, radicalism, chauvinism, the desire to bring society back to conventions that no longer work in order to achieve mercantilist goals cannot be overlooked. Theatre must be relevant, but at the same time it must be able to remain an impartial arbitrator. Without preaching and without falling for fashion and politics. Theatre itself must create fashion and politics. I believe in theatre and in the power of art. Theatre should not change the world. It should, in Shakespeare’s famous phrase, ‘hold as ‘twere the mirror up to nature’ and reflect what is inside and not on the surface. And then the world itself will change.

Oskaras Koršunovas, Artistic Director of the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre



Premieres planned for the 83rd season:



9 September – Peter Shaffer Equus, directed by Jokūbas Brazys

18 OctoberTestimonies, based on the stories of the Ukrainian women, directed by Oskaras Koršunovas

25 November – Rimantas Kmita, after George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm. The Twenty-First Century, directed by Paulius Tamolė



2 February – Ivan Vyrypajev The Drunk, directed by Ivan Vyrypayev

8 March – Eugène Ionesco Rhoniceros, directed by Antanas Obcarskas

21 April – Dalia Grinkevičiūtė Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea, directed by Eglė Švedkauskaitė

31 May – a performance based on Franz Kafka, directed by Oliver Frljić