Established in 1998, Oskaras Korsunovas Theatre (currently bearing the name of OKT / Vilnius City Theatre) from the outset was determined to remain independent. Such a risk certainly did not come without sacrifices: the newly established theatre did not have a stable source of income, offices, or rehearsal spaces necessary for efficient and creative work; neither did it have a permanent performance venue to present its productions on a regular basis. This daring step was taken for a single reason: OKT firmly decided to cut all relations with the theatrical reality of that time and create a new reality based on a contemporary theatre language.
The theatre took further risks: it began to stage new dramaturgy, which at that time was hardly presented on the Lithuanian stage, thus proclaiming that the times had changed and the contemporary theatre had to reflect the reality of the day. OKT set out to look for new ways to communicate with the audience, and alongside introduced new-style management. Despite a sharp reaction and controversial opinions, the audience received this brave venture with respect and acknowledgement. One could assert that in the long run the young director’s artistic project won the theatre the name of the most acclaimed and ‘audience-friendly’ act.
At the same time when a specific audience of OKT began to form and its performances gathered full houses in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities, OKT also became the most frequently touring Lithuanian theatre. Performances speaking about the new theatre reality were presented on major stages and in major festivals in France, Germany, and Scandinavia. The theatre even visited the countries of South and North America and Asia, and its productions were included in the main program of the famous Avignon Festival several times.
It is also important that while remaining independent, Oskaras Korsunovas Theatre has always referred to a purposeful strategy of artistic program. Rather than producing disparate projects, it created a strong repertory embracing both contemporary dramaturgy and classical works. The main credo of the OKT repertory is the following: to produce contemporary dramaturgy as classical, and to present classical works as if it were contemporary dramaturgy. Thus the theatre’s productions organically evolve from each other: ‘Fireface’ by Marius von Mayenburg is related with ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by William Shakespeare – with ‘Crave’ by Sarah Kane. Quite in line with these are ‘Shopping and Fucking’ by Mark Ravenhill, ‘Oedipus Rex’ by Sophocles, or ‘Playing the Victim’ by the brothers Presnyakov, while ‘Master and Margarita’ after Mikhail Bulgakov and ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare, are distinguished among the most significant productions of Oskaras Korsunovas Theatre. The newest work of Oskaras Korsunovas ‘The Lower Depths’ after M.Gorky was not only awarded as The Best Performance of 2010, but also received much attention from the audience. ‘Miranda’ after W. Shakespeare directed by Oskaras Korsunovas has already gained international fame and received three awards of the Golden Cross in 2012: for the best director, best leading actress (Airida Gintautaite) and the best composer. The last production of OKT ‘Julius Caesar’ after W.Shakespeare directed by Arturas Areima is still looking for its way to the audience’s hearts.
Being completely independent, the theatre managed to assemble quite a large company of 15 permanently working actors. If we count all actors participating in the theatre’s performances, this number would increase several times.
Thus, although without its ‘own roof’, stable state support, or any guarantees for a safe future, OKT still became a real theatre – with actors that had acquired training in that theatre, with its own idea of a repertory, and its own world outlook. Five years of the theatre’s creative activity were crowned with the premiere of ‘The Most Remarkable and Lamentable Story of Romeo and Juliet’, a performance that as if generalized all creative pursuits of the theatre and finished a certain stage.
Having entered a new stage, the theatre changed its structure as well – it was granted the name of the Vilnius City Theatre. This title obliged the theatre to postpone individual creative endeavours and embark on building a creative platform in an attempt to meet the demands of the Vilnius audience and alongside to form them. That is why the theatre’s first large-scale project was the Vilnius International Theatre Festival ‘Sirenos’ held in cooperation with the public institution ‘Vilnius Festivals’. First organized in 2004, this annual festival not only invites the most interesting foreign companies, but also presents the Lithuanian showcase including the season’s best local productions.
The theatre’s recently celebrated 10th anniversary introduced a whole lot of important innovations into the quietened life of the theatre, thus as if giving it second wind. After ten years of wandering around different theatre venues in Vilnius, OKT has finally found a home. The new Theatre Arena was inaugurated with the festival of the theatre’s 10th anniversary in April 2009 and became not only its permanent acting space, but also a new cultural hub in the city. The new office premises granted by the Vilnius municipality and the recently extended term of the Vilnius City Theatre allows us to look at the future with hope and optimism.
Today the theatre knows that it would not be able to remain creative and contemporary by existing solely in the local space – without a dialogue with the foreign theatre artistic possibilities soon become exhausted. OKT will not stop looking for new forms and means of communication not only by moving outside the stage or theatre building, but also by transgressing the boundaries of traditional theatre concepts. The theatre will continue to create its architectonic vision in the imagination of its spectators.