(90 years to Kaunas State Drama Theatre)*Vidmantas Kiaušas

www.kamane.lt , 2010 10 11

In brief: Kaunas State Drama Theatre is creating its repertoire of the 90th season along with former most famous directors of this theatre. These are Jonas Jurašas, Jonas Vaitkus, Gytis Padegimas, Gintaras Varnas.

J.Jurašas worked as the chief director of Kaunas Drama Theatre in 1967-1972. He emigrated to the West in 1974. During his first return to Lithuania in 1990-1992 he directed the performance “Sand Claviers” on Kaunas Stage. The year 2010 marks his third return to Kaunas theatre.

J.Jurašas. Photo by M.Kiaušaitė

The interview with J.Jurašas is about the premiere performance “Antigone in the Siberia” according to the play of Aušra Marija Sluckaitė (who also participated in the conversation), the attitude of the director to theatre in general, his work abroad and in Lithuania. Some extracts from the interview are presented in English.

What is the credo of your creative work?

I think my credo is the belief in the truth of life and theatre and the search for the secret of complicated human existence in every drama work. A certain form is found every time; still, the main attempt is to preserve what is eternal, universal, what is acceptable and attractive to people in the entire world: human truth, unity of heart and intellect.

What new experience have you gained while directing abroad?

The longer I live and gain experience in theatre, the less I am interested in pure searches of form; I am concerned with general questions, insights into the tragedy of existence and human being. Before my emigration, such performances as “Hunt for Mammoths”, “Grasa’s Home” were considered the search for the form; however, I was never attracted to the theatre of effects and shock. Sadly, the majority of performances created in Lithuania are of this kind.

It is obvious that the theatre of effect and provoking shock is enjoyed in Lithuania. My interest in such theatre is decreasing with time. This is why Aušra (A.M.Sluckaitė-Jurašienė. – V. K.) and I are searching for something that would refer to the essential problems of the nation and human being; we are searching for answers to questions important to each person.

I always believed that it would be good to place an explosive under the chair of each spectator, the explosion of which would make a man think and open up. Such theatre is interesting. It may shock by the subtle thought without any shocking form. For example, “Sand Claviers” surprised by the audience by its simplicity. Still, we were more interesting abroad than in Lithuania with this performance.

How do you choose actors? 

Human contact is more important to me than the recognition of the actor, his/her popularity or external glare. The actors Jūratė Onaitytė, Liubomiras Laucevičius, Egidijus Stancikas, Arūnas Stanionis, Milė Šablauskaitė performed in “Sand Claviers”; Regina Varnaitė remembers “Saint Lake” as a performance in which she shined like a star. I am glad that Eglė Mikulionytė is creating the third role in my performances. Her Antigone is a really interesting work.

J.Jurašas and A.M.Sluckaitė-Jurašienė. Photo by Milda Kiaušaitė

Why did you call “Antigone in the Sibiria” a post-drama? What was your aim in joining “Antigone” by Jean Anouilh, “Laments” by Birutė Pūkelevičiūtė and extracts from diaries of participants of the expedition “Mission: Siberia”?   

A. M. Sluckaitė: The postdramatic theatre and various “postpostpost” have spread a lot. It is no longer post-modernism, it is something that goes after it. I called the drama post-drama as a joke. It is hard to name the genre of the play. It was interesting to us to use extracts from fiction in documentary material. The documentary material is used in certain dosages in “Antigone in the Siberia” in order to reach the conscience and soul of a human being indirectly and to remind the road of the nation. We have to respect the past so that it would not be forgotten by our children and grandchildren.

A question to J.Jurašas: don’t you think that you could do a lot if you stayed in Lithuania?

Perhaps my drama lies in the fact that I had to stroll around the world for twenty best years of my life? Still, we should not forget that other people using sharper language were treated with bigger caution after my conflict. I do not want to take too many credits, but Vaitkus, Nekrošius, Koršunovas started staging performances in the times of liberating environment. I knew that my letter of protest was the only letter of this kind in the Soviet Union; and this was the reason why it received such a reaction.

What is the biggest problem of Lithuanian theatres in your opinion?

It is bad that the institution of theatre has disappeared in Lithuania. There is the administration, migrating actors and directors. There is no strong philosophical and ethical ground which was present in Juozas Miltinis Theatre. People lived in theatre at that time, and nobody lives in theatre any longer. Only buildings of the theatre are left, and there is less and less of the theatre to which it could be possible to gather people and actors of the same belief.

You have made a note about a huge necropolis of unimplemented ideas. What do you plan to stage next? When should we wait for the next premiere?

I would not like to take any obligations; still, Aušra and I are thinking of coming works. I directed the theatrical reading of the German playwright Heiner Muller’s play “Philoctetes” for the New Drama Action in Vilnius not so long ago. Three actors rehearsed, and the performance was shown only once. There is no place for showing it. The play is not commercial and very complicated; thus, we should work at it more and finish it.


*) The actors of the Drama Circle performed “Feast of St. John” of Hermann Sudermann directed by Jonas Vaičkus for the first time at Kaunas City Theatre (present Kaunas State Musical Theatre) on the 19th of December of 1920. The history of professional Lithuanian theatre and Kaunas State Drama Theatre started with this premiere.

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