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

www.kamane.lt, 2010 11 22

G.Padegimas. Photos by M.Kiaušaitė

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.

G.Padegimas worked as a director at Kaunas Drama Theatre in 1980-1986, he was the head of the theatre in 1993-1999. G.Padegimas made his debut at Kaunas State Drama Theatre in 1973 while studying in Moscow and directed 26 performances here. At the moment he is the professor of Klaipėda University, Faculty of Arts.

In the interview the director G.Padegimas tells about the choice of his profession, shares thoughts about Lithuanian theatre and its problems, his past and present works.

Speaking about theatre, G.Padegimas points out: “Theatre should resist the squall of mass culture, it should not surrender. The main function of theatre has always been the same: creation of spiritual infrastructure. Theatre can do much more than the society thinks it can. Amusement may be provided by various shows, circuses, popular street events. Meanwhile, theatre is a powerful instrument of self-analysis, the place where one should feel and think, switch on the machine of associations, reflect the past and the future.”

When asked about theatrical authorities who influenced the director or who should be followed, G.Padegimas names Maria Knebel, who was the teacher of Jonas Jurašas, Povilas Gaidys, Dalia Tamulevičiūtė. His course was headed by Josif Tumanov or Tumanishvili. Later the director confronted the theatre of Aleksandr Tairov, in which actors were philosophers, jugglers and tragedians at the same time. The director also refers to the theatre based on synthesis created by J. Miltinis. One of the most famous reformers of the 20th century theatre was Michail Chekhov, who was banned.

“Creditors” of August Strindberg, “Our Township” of Thornton Wilder, “Madman’s Notes” of Nikolaj Gogol were mentioned by theatre critics as the most successful performances of G.Padegimas. They were created at the time when he was a regular director. After the artist became the head of Kaunas Drama Theatre, he silenced down for a while. The director explains that after he became the general manager of the theatre, he had to maintain the theatre, to ensure that it would not be ruined by centrifugal forces. “Many people spoke that everything created in the Soviet times was bad. According to them, everything should have been reformed; still, I understood theatre as one entity, as home rather than some bondage.”

G.Padegimas states to have left the position of the head of the theatre as he did not want to be the face of the theatre, in the repertoire of which restaurant performances with soup boiled in them appeared.

Now the director G.Padegimas plans to direct his 100th performance for the jubilee of Kaunas Drama Theatre. He has written a play “JAH”, in which he analyses the epoch of the colourful personality, which has charmed him, Juozapas Albinas Herbačiauskas. One will also see Balys Sruoga, Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas, Adomas Jakštas in the play.

The director is also asked in the interview what causes his negative attitude in the variety of theatre systems, directions and schools, what contradicts his aesthetical and ethical believes.

“If a suicide is condemned even more than a murder in Christianity, the biggest crime in art is to take away hope. My life was full of thorns; however, I would not be able to spread stress and anger from the stage. Such discharge is unacceptable to me. A man may be diverse, but some borders should not be crossed. Actors and spectators should not become hostages of emotions, passions and pains of the director,” G.Padegimas answered.

G.Padegimas directs performances in almost all Lithuanian theatres, he frequently works abroad, performs himself and is famous as a teacher and lecturer. The director explains, “I am a happy man: my vocation coincides with my profession, I have the spiritual infrastructure, I am of wide profile rather than the director of one festival. I have a strong spine of values, and I can choose very diverse means of expression. (…) I am not privileged to sit in one place, in Kaunas for instance, as I do not have my own theatre; I have to work to live. Of course, I would have done more in one theatre than the society could demand. No matter what the situation is, you have to carry your cross. Daily work grants the biggest satisfaction, and I feel happy because I do what I have to do”.


*) 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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