Vidmantas Kiaušas, 2011-10-03

In brief: The presentation of “Sermon to the Fishes” in the new Rūta Hall of Kaunas State Drama Theatre was intriguing. Composer, National Prize Winner V. Bartulis is the author, director, composer and scenographer of the performance, while Vladimiras Šerstabojevas is the author of lights and video installation.

The performance of one act should be watched with a small dictionary of Curonian language. The map reminds us of Baltic tribes – Lithuanians, Sudovians, Curonians, Semigallians, Selians. “Sermon to the Fishes” is a beautiful, poetic lullaby to the dead Curonian language.

The Curonians (actresses Vilija Grigaitytė, Neringa Nekrašiūtė, Daiva Rudokaitė, Ugnė Žirgulė and actors Aleksandras Kleinas, Henrikas Savickis, Dainius Svobonas, Ridas Žirgulis) are sitting at a long table, behind the curtain of time, talking, laughing and doing their work – men are constructing something, women are sewing. Games at the table turn to gentle embraces and alluring dances.

The otherworldly scenes do not show any tangible plot, just separate words that remind of Curonian relations to nature and talk about death and passion. After the dada-gugu for imaginary babies the lullaby starts swinging.

Composer V. Bartulis composed music for many performances and worked at the theatre for some time so one can have right to be strict for the author. V. Bartulis wished to speak as a dramaturge, by words not notes, but the main characters of “Sermon to the Fishes” are music and the Curonians.

Karvaičiai, Kuncai, Latmiškis, Nida, Juodkrantė, Smiltynė, Šarkuva... Sand in mouth, sand in ears, sand in eyes, sand in heart... Pastor (actor Kęstutis Povilaitis) and Deaf-and-Dumb Maid (actress Aušra Keliuotytė) try to listen and see the past of the Curonians but what we can hear is only a grey, boring dialogue. When Pastor is dying, we can feel the end approaching but it seems that there was no beginning in the first place. However, the Curonian dance was rather suggestive.

Texts and directing hobble, scenography is rather unpretentious, music is varied in Bartulis way – sensitively melodious, the intentions are very good but the result, summa summarum, is disappointing. Paradoxical situation...

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