I work at a contemporary performing arts centre called Cambridge Junction in Cambridge, that city famous for its university, in the UK. I’m spending a couple of weeks here in Vilnius working at Arts Printing House in the run up to ‘KITOKS festival for children’ as part of a Staff Exchange programme organised by international performing arts network IETM.
At Cambridge Junction, which is a smaller building than Arts Printing House, but has similar sized spaces, I am responsible for the contemporary theatre and dance programmes for both adults and children. I was interested to spend time here because it is a venue presenting similar styles of contemporary work, but in a country that I knew little about (but I am keen to learn!). I was looking for a ‘different’ experience, which is exactly what the children attending KITOKS will be getting too, with work coming from all over Europe… France, Canada, Finland and Sweden as well as Lithuania.
I am excited by the opportunities that performance for children has to inspire the healthy development of open minded, freely imaginative people as they grow older. Which also hopefully builds audiences for theatre in the future, alongside a belief in the value of culture and live, artistic experiences. And we really need more of all of that at the moment…
I love performance that’s got something to say about the wider world and is finding new forms to say it in. The companies in KITOKS are using everything from animation to aerial circus and plastic bags to tell stories from local history, New York art and architecture. I’m looking forward to meeting and helping out the companies visiting Vilnius, as well as seeing their shows. With children’s performance, it is always enjoyable to see the reactions on the faces of the audience and to see how they behave and respond – so often they have little respect for the formal conventions of theatre but such enthusiasm for the experience, and long may that continue! (Or if they’re not being entertained, you know that pretty soon too.)
I particularly want to seeing ‘Plastic’ by Théâtre Puzzle from Canada for its innovative use of humble plastic bags and Ilmatila from Finland’s Elsewhere as I have seen her beautiful aerial circus work before, but also with a programme of work that is new to me, I’m hoping to discover something wonderful and perhaps be able to share that experience with audiences in the UK.
A useful addition to the KITOKS programme is a workshop for teachers on ‘how to convey the art of theatre…in such a way that it will result in an unforgettable and lasting experience’. How can we convince teachers to value the theatre and to bring their pupils? In the UK this is a problem too with visits for shows that are not ‘on the syllabus’ becoming rarer. This workshop should be valuable as the value of the art of theatre in itself is not always enough. I just hope that the children can make that case for themselves too.
>> join us at KITOKS | more information about the events at our Calendar section <<