TheATRIUM: First, International and Based in Klaipėda

On June 1-25, 2017 the first international theatre festival TheATRIUM will take place in Klaipėda. The event will be held solely due to efforts and financial support of Klaipėda citizens, as it received no funding from Lithuanian Council for Culture. The festival is financed by Klaipėda City Municipality, local businessmen, and the organisers of the festival Klaipėda Drama Theatre.

TheATRIUM Festival is a part of the “Klaipėda the Lithuanian Capital of Culture 2017” programme. The organizers maintain that their main goal is to introduce the audience of Western Lithuania to the most valuable performances of contemporary theatre. Therefore, after a discussion with sponsors it was decided not to increase regular ticket prizes; tickets to all the performances of the festival will cost from EUR 5 to EUR 15. This is a gift from the sponsors for Klaipėda citizens.

The tittle of the TheATRIUM Festival includes a Latin word “atrium”. In ancient Rome, it was the main space of a residential building in the central area of a house with a lighting coming directly through the ceiling. Conversations and meetings of great importance were held in an atrium. In contemporary architecture, an atrium is a glass ceiling-covered space in the centre of a building. Incidentally, such detail can be found in Klaipėda Drama Theatre as well.

Does Klaipėda need an international theatre festival? After taking a closer look at state-funded projects it has become obvious that the professional culture of the capital exclusively receives serious and consistent funding, thus leaving the rest with the funding of “less ambitious”, half-professional, or amateurish cultural events. Funding is allocated to events that are deemed “harmless” and non-competitive, or to ones that are mechanically imported from the capital with their own staffs. Due to such politics, Lithuania is becoming a one-city country. Cultural decentralization, which has been discussed for decades, is not implemented. Instead, it is imitated and “paper-based”. So it can be anticipated that the real process of decentralization will begin not from the “centre”, but from the discriminated “outskirts”.

Usually, serious festivals are organized by teams that are specifically brought together for this purpose, and receive generous salaries for the job. TheATRIUM is organized by employees of Klaipėda Drama Theatre who will receive no income for their work. Is it scary? Of course, having in mind the scope of responsibility. Mistakes will be made, no doubt. But we want to make those mistakes ourselves, instead of being just an additional site for activities of others. We do not want to be a summer movie theatre to which a technician comes to show a movie when the season is right.

What is special about TheATRIUM? First of all, it is all about Klaipėda: created by hard work and financial support of local people. To our knowledge, it is the only international festival in the history of Lithuania organized by exclusively one city. Klaipėda City Municipality contributed to the festival by giving EUR 40 000, local businessmen – EUR 60 000, and Klaipėda Drama Theatre itself brought EUR 30 000. After hearing the news that Lithuanian Council for Culture allocated no funding to the festival, the following businessmen of Klaipėda came to our aid: Pamario restauratorius, UAB, Director Aldas Kliukas; Limarko Shipping Company, AB, Director Vytautas Lygnugaris; Stemma Group UAB, owners Zita and Martinas Gusiatinai; Sveikatos gija, UAB, Director Alvydas Vaičiūnas; Western Ship Building Yard, AB, Director General Arnoldas Šileika; Nesė UAB, Director Kazys Paulikas. During the festival, “Pramogų bankas” will provide catering to the participants, free-of-charge. The festival already has its first media sponsor –

The organizers have set the goal to make TheATRIUM a continuous event, and the repertoire for 2018 is already being planned. During the press conference, Klaipėda Vice-Mayor Artūras Šulcas admitted to being pleasantly surprised by the programme of the festival, and promised to support this idea in every possible way.

The spirit of the festival will be evidently bound to Klaipėda: void of pomposity, long speeches, or polish. “Contemporary festivals are lacking vitality, satisfaction and celebration. They are slowly becoming reminiscent of boring seminars designed solely for professionals who are convinced that they know what theatre must be like. The word “festival” is derived from a Latin word “festivus”, meaning joyful and celebratory. We want to return this word to its roots”, maintain the organizers of the festival. “We are facing a difficult task. But at the same time we are positive that the audience of Klaipėda, recently offended by certain critics of the capital, deserve to experience the best theatre and the highest quality performances”.

Performances and dates:

01.06 SUTARI (Poland), Staged concert
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 7 PM

03.06 SUTARI (Poland), “Watermelon“
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 5 PM

04.06 KLAIPĖDA DRAMA THEATRE (Lithuania), “The Father“
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Small Hall; 5 PM

07.06. LIEPAJA THEATRE (Latvia), “Stavanger. Pulp People“
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 6.30 PM

10.06 NOWY TEATR (Poland), “Apocalypse“
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 6.30 PM

11.06 NOWY TEATR (Poland), “Apocalypse“
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 5 PM

13.06. LITHUANIAN NATIONAL DRAMA THEATRE (Lithuania), “The Great Evil“
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 6.30 PM

15.06 KLAIPĖDA DRAMA THEATRE (Lithuania), “Keep out”
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 6.30 PM

17.06 PADI DAPI FISH (Lithuania) and ALBAN RICHARD (France), “Shake That Devil!“
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 6.30 PM

18.06 OKT / VILNIUS CITY THEATRE (Lithuania), “Cleansed“
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 6 PM

21.06 NO99 (Estonia),”Filth“
“Žvejų rūmai”, 6.30 PM

25.06 TIGER LILLIES (Great Britain), Staged concert
Klaipėda Drama Theatre, Big Hall; 7 PM

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