Baltic Transfer* Festival

18-24 October, 2021

TR Warszawa and partners of the project invite you to the BALTIC TRANSFER* Festival – a review of new forms of theater, music, dramaturgy and audio art installations from the Baltic countries, where a strong new wave of experiments in the performing arts is on the rise. This is a festival that transcends borders, a result of a two-year collaboration between TR Warszawa and partnering institutions from Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Jaunimo Teatras from Vilnius, Dirty Deal Teatro from Riga, the New Theatre Institute of Latvia and Theatre Centre Vaba Lava from Tallinn will present their productions on the stage of TR Warszawa/Marszałkowska 8. Selected accompanying events will be hosted by the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute and Kawałyk Sztuki Cafe.

The program of BALTIC TRANSFER* Festival includes premiere productions of repertory theater as well as independent works of artists supported by the partnering institutions. This is a next generation theatre – one that derives artistic drive from various areas of art and reality. A theatre that surprises – with a thorough revision of the traumatic past, with a deep insight into the present, and with a fresh and bold perspective on the future.

An important part of the program will be non-fiction drama represented by “Being a Nationalist” performance produced by Dirty Deal Teatro from Riga and “I Dreamt I Dreamt” produced by Jaunimo Teatras from Vilnius. The former, directed by Valters Sīlis, is a stage confession of Matīss Gricmanis, who used to be an activist of a Latvian nationalist party. In the production he reveals the mechanisms behind the nationalist movement. At the festival we’ll present a modified version of the production, where the protagonist will be accompanied by TR Warszawa actors. The other production, created by Kamilė Gudmonaitė (director) and Teklė Kavtaradze (dramatist), is an audio art installation based on interviews with criminals sentenced to life imprisonment and families of their victims. The production poses the question whether reparation and forgiveness are possible. At the festival we’ll present a special, Polish version of “I Dreamt I Dreamt” installation dubbed by TR Warszawa actors – Magdalena Kuta and Mirosław Zbrojewicz, translated from Lituanian and directed by Jan Dravnel.

Another performance presented within the festival – “I Had a Cousin”, based on Rasa Bugavičute-Pēce’s play and produced by Theatre Centre Vaba Lava from Tallinn, brings up the issue of organized crime, which was on the rise in the Baltic countries during the transformation period. The production presents a story of the author’s cousin – one of the leaders of Kaunas mafia, who was killed by assassins from Estonia in 2015, when he was 27. What social circumstances and personal motivations make someone risk their life to become a king of the world? The transformation-period society is also portrayed in “Two Garages” by a Latvian director Elmārs Seņkovs from Vaba Lava (Tallinn). The director focuses on a strange garage space, a place that was a shelter both for a homo soveticus and for a new citizen of the democratic republic. The action of “Two Garages” takes place simultaneously in Estonia and Latvia and presents a story of young men who reach adulthood just as their countries win their independence.

In addition to the non-fiction dramas, we’ll present adaptations of two 20th-century novels. A Vilnius composer – Arturas Bumšteinas, who collaborates with the Unsound festival in Cracow and a Warsaw label Bôłt Records, will stage the “Urbantschitsch Method” based on “The Lime Works” by Thomas Bernhard, produced by Jaunimo Teatras. The story about an artist who is obsessed with the theory of hearing takes here the form of a unique music performance, which refers to the experiments of an Austrian doctor – Victor Urbantschitsch. Urbantschitsch, at the beginning of the 20th century developed a method of treating hearing problems with sound exercises. The issue of hearing is also examined in the performance “Brother of Sleep”, directed by Adomas Juška and based on Robert Schneider’s novel. Action of the play takes place in the 19th century and the protagonist is a young musician-organist, gifted with an exceptional hearing.

We’ll also present an Estonian documentary titled “A Year Full of Drama”. It pictures the phenomena of theatre culture in Estonia – one of the world leaders in audience turnout. In this country, where there are only 1.3 million citizens, the annual number of theatre-goers exceeds 1.2 million. Marta Polk’s film shows that theatre can be not only an entertainment but also a space of personal freedom.

The performances will be accompanied by debates and meetings with artists hosted by Roman Pawłowski – curator of the festival.

*BALTIC TRANSFER Festival is a space where ideas and artistic projects are transferred to other cultures and where their new meanings are analysed in the different contexts. The name of the festival refers to the concept of „cultural transfer” developed by a French historian Michele Espagne. He claims that in the process of transfer from one culture to another, every object gets a new context and takes on a new meaning. Cultural exchange is not the circulation of objects and ideas as they already are, but their reinterpretation, rethinking and re-signification. This is the opposite of cultural colonialism and cultural hegemony, because both parties are influenced by the exchange. Baltic countries are one of  the “cultural zones” as Espagne calls it – the space of intercultural relations in contrast to national culture and national self- identification. The mixing of different cultural elements within Baltic region and the transfer of art practices from one cultural zone to another is the main idea of the project.

Is transfer a benefit or a danger?

See the full festival program

The project is a joint initiative of TR Warszawa, Jaunimo Teatras (Vilnius), The New Theatre Institute of Latvia (Riga), Theatre Centre Vaba Lava (Tallinn). The event is supported and financed by the Baltic Culture Fund, Lithuanian Culture Institute and Estonian Theatre Agency. Partners of the event: The Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute, Kawałyk Sztuki Cafe.