Days getting shorter and weather getting cooler: this is how most of us imagine the end of summer. However, Kaunas offers a solution and on August 23–25, will invite everyone to a new international festival of stage arts called ConTempo. According to the press release, its name suggests not only a contemporary programme, but also the journey of Kaunas from the temporary capital to the contemporary one.

The initiator of the festival is Kaunas 2022 which has joined its forces with Kultūros platforma VšĮ and Lithuanian Dance Information Centre (LDIC). The programme of the first festival’s edition features exclusive, brave, provoking and open projects introduced by well-known European creators from Belgium, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, Spain and, of course, Lithuania. There will be as many as 12 events to take place in Kaunas and its district within three days, and only one of them is not free of charge.

“I am very glad that the title of the European Capital of Culture encourages such new initiatives in Kaunas like ConTempo. Most of the performances of this festival will take place in public spaces and will reach both interested and random people, develop cultural curiosity, interest and engagement. It seems that this August will offer Kaunasians and residents of Kaunas District some unforgettable events, allowing to explore various places there. I am very eager to see the first edition!” explains Ms. Virginija Vitkienė, head of Kaunas 2022 on why she is looking forward to this exclusive weekend in August.

Something for a curious passer-by and a connoisseur of stage arts 

ConTempo programme features multidisciplinary works of dance, contemporary circus, theatre and music. “The programme is balanced in such a way that all spectators, irrespective of whether they take interest in stage arts or not, would discover an event they find alluring,” claims Ms. Gintarė Masteikaitė, curator of stage arts at Kaunas 2022 and the author of the festival’s programme.

The festival will be opened by a conceptual performance made specifically for its venue, Trophy (Rudi van der Merwe and Béatrice Graf, Switzerland), that explores the relationship between a human and his / her environment and the desire to mark one’s territory and control it.  The performance that will take place on Nemunas Embankment in Šančiai and in J. Biliūnas Square in Kačerginė is exceptional in its structure: it manipulates the perception of the audience and the way it sees the space and approaches the audience from 300 metres.

That being said, there will be more outdoor performances: Zoog (Amir and Hemda, Israel) that transforms the usual gender roles and includes strength-requiring acrobatics, Le Cauchemar de Darwish (Ben Fury and Simon Thierrée, Belgium) inspired by traditional Middle East and contemporary music and dance as well as one of the best known street theatre performances Kamchàtka (Kamchàtka Street Theatre Company, Spain) that will invite to embark on an unusual journey through the entire Kaunas Old Town.

As one of the participants of Circus Next project for young European circus artists, Lithuanian Dance Information Centre will include in ConTempo’s programme a performance by the winner of this year’s programme Andrea Salustri (Italy) with his contemporary circus performance Materia. This show, which is going to take place in Girstutis Culture and Sports Centre, is a synthesis of juggling and object manipulation with the story open for spectator’s interpretation. A seat in the performance can be reserved by purchasing a ticket for a symbolic price in Tiketa platform. The Italian performance Absolute Beginners by TeatrInGestAzione also requires a black box stage. This performance features objects, theatre, music, light and installation work that opens the mysterious and captivating post-modern myth of the world creation in front of the eyes of the audience.

ConTempo will present Lithuanian artists as well. A performance 4 Mortos produced by Kaunas City Chamber Theatre will invite to a ritualistic experience of the Lithuanian mythology and folklore in a nocturnal meeting at Kaunas Blessed Sacrament Church. An initiative of Kaunas 2022 called Kaunas Challenge will introduce their Youth Programme with a performance for the audience consisting of sofas presented by Marija Baranauskaitė with music by Elboe.

A springboard for future plans

According to Ms. Gintarė Masteikaitė, the author of the programme, the purpose of the first and the upcoming ConTempo festivals is not only to present exclusive and relevant works by foreign creators, new formats and activate different city spaces and buildings, but also initiate communication among the creators of Europe, Kaunas and Lithuania as well as to encourage internationalisation, openness and sense of community. The aim of the festival is to involve the youth, young managers and foreign professionals of stage arts to the team from the very beginning, and to support and encourage the young community of stage arts.

Next to the festival, a lot of other activities are planned that will provide added value to the cultural content and community of Kaunas and Kaunas District. “We expect that with 2022 as the European Capital of Culture year approaching, there will appear residencies for new, site-specific performances and events created together with the local people. We would also like to witness the growth in performances by Kaunas and foreign theatres, contemporary dance and circus groups and their co-productions and tours around Europe.” says Ms. Vitkienė about the plans of the project, also adding that Kaunas region has lacked such an event that would tap into the global stage arts. This will definitely bring the local field of stage arts into the wider European context and increase its visibility. The festival is created and will be developed in collaboration with the entire Kaunas stage arts community.”

The festival supported by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania will take place on August 23–25 at the centre of Kaunas, Šančiai and Kačerginė. Full programme and other information available at www.contempofestival.lt.