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ConTempo – a New Festival in Kaunas

Shorter days and cooler weather are usually the first things that comes to mind when we remember the summer is about to end. However, Kaunas offers a way out and invites you to a new international performing arts festival on 23-25 of August. ConTempo – this is the name of it, which refers not only to the contemporary program, but also to the Kaunas city journey from temporary to contemporary capital. The ConTempo festival was initiated by Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 and organized by joined forces of the Kultūros Platforma and the Lithuanian Dance Information Center. The first edition of the festival features exceptional, bold, provocative and open projects presented by well-known artists from Belgium, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, Spain and of course Lithuania. As many as 12 events will be presented in Kaunas city and district within three days and only one of them will have admission fee.

“I am very happy that the title of European Capital of Culture is encouraging new initiatives in Kaunas such as ConTempo. Most of the festival’s performances will take place in public spaces, reaching out to both interested people and passers-by, cultivating cultural curiosity, interest and engagement. It seems that this August will offer Kaunas residents and people living in the suburbs unforgettable events, which will allow people to get to know many different locations of Kaunas city and district. I am really looking forward to seeing this first edition! ”- Virginija Vitkienė, Director of Kaunas 2022 speaks about an exceptional August weekend.

Kamchàtka. ©SPAC

For a Curious Passer-by And for a Performing Arts Gourmand

Dance, contemporary circus, theatre, music and interdisciplinary art pieces can be found in the ConTempo programme. According to Gintarė Masteikaitė, Kaunas 2022 performing arts curator and festival programmer, this programme is balanced, so that every kind of spectator will find something to like, despite the level of interest for performing arts.

Festival will be opened with a conceptual, site-specific performance Trophee (Rudi van der Merwe and Béatrice Graf, Switzerland), which explores a relationship between the human being and his surroundings, desire to mark the territory and rule. The performance will take place on the shore of Nemunas river in Šančiai and at the J. Biliūnas square in Kačerginė. It is also exceptional for its‘ direction – the piece advances towards the audience over 300 meters, playing with perspective.

Zoog. ©Christian Lauzin

There will be more performances outdoors – Zoog (Amir and Hemda, Israel) transforming the traditional gender roles in strength-demanding acrobatics, Le Cauchemar De Darwish inspired by traditional Middle Eastern and contemporary music and dance (Ben Fury and Simon Thierrée, Belgium) and one of the most famous streets theater performance Kamchàtka (Kamchàtka Street Theater Company, Spain), which invites you to embark on an unexpected journey through the entire Old Town of Kaunas.

As one of the participants of Circus Next project, Lithuanian Dance Information Center will present this year’s project winner Andrea Salustri (Italy) with a contemporary circus performance Materia. Performance, which will take place at Girstutis Culture and Sports Centre, is a synthesis of juggling and object manipulation, with a narrative open for the audience interpretation. A seat for this performance can be booked by purchasing a ticket for a symbolic price on Tiketa. Closed hall, otherwise known as the “black box”, is also required for the Italian TeatrInGestAzione’s performance Absolute Beginners – a piece consisting of object theater, music, light and installation art that will create a highly mysterious and engaging, postmodern myth of world creation. 

Materia

ConTempo will also present Lithuanian artists. The performance 4 Mortos, produced by Kaunas Chamber Theater, will invite the audience to a ritualistic experience of Lithuanian mythology and folklore during the late-night performance at Kaunas Blessed Sacrament Church. Kaunas Challenge, a part of the Kaunas 2022 project, will present a Youth Programme where Marija Baranauskaitė will perform for the sofa audience while Elboe will take care of the music.

Start for the Future Plans

According to the festival programmer Gintarė Masteikaitė, the purpose of the first and upcoming ConTempo festivals is not only to present exceptional, relevant works of international creators, new forms, to use different urban spaces and buildings, but also to initiate cooperation between European, Kaunas, Lithuanian creators, to promote openness, internationality. From the very beginning, this festival aims to include young people and young performing arts managers, foreign professionals, to support and strengthen the young performing arts community.

Le Cauchemar De Darwish. ©S.Žiūra

In addition to the festival, more activities are planned to enrich the cultural content and community of Kaunas and Kaunas district. “With the upcoming 2022 – year of the European Capital of Culture, we are hoping to see residences for new and site-specific performances created by for its people. There will be more co-productions by Kaunas and international theater, performance art, contemporary dance and circus companies as well tours in Europe, – Virginija Vitkienė is naming plans for the project, – Kaunas region was really lacking such event, which senses the global pulse of the performing arts. This will undoubtedly bring the local performing arts field into the wider European context and exposure. The festival is being created and will be nurtured in cooperation with the whole Kaunas performing arts community.”

Festival ConTempo will take place in Kaunas city center, Šančiai and Kačerginė on 23-25thof August. It is sponsored by Lithuanian Council for Culture and Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. The programme can be found here