The sculptor and costume designer Birutė Ukrinaitė has been working for 20 years in the theater with director Gytis Padegimas and has visually represented 50 performances. The conversation with the artist takes place in the framework of the second creative tandem premiere of "Winds in the Cords" at the National Drama Theater in Kaunas.
– Scenography – what is it? What do people do to the scriptwriter?
– Scenography is all about what's happening in a black box on the stage. Here is the light chosen by the light artist, sound and music, controlled by the composer who unites and helps to reveal scenography. For example, the table itself that stands in an empty space is not always "ringing". You need a ray of light, you need music to make this chair "awake".
– What should be the artist?
– If I asked this question five years ago, I would say that I have to be brave and educated. Now, I think that the artist can be anyone with inner knowledge, spatial thinking. It can be very frightening. The Lithuanians naturally cling to the frames, but I like the broader view that there is no need to ask questions about what a person is or should be. After all, we are all, so it can be the same as an artist, without asking what is.
– How is the phase spatial process evolved, on which levels do you want to distinguish?
– A certain order: I read the game, then I talk to the director, I listen to his wishes and ideas, tell me your thoughts. After discussing everything, we close our creative spaces and build these ideas. After a while we meet again and look at what we like, how we present concrete things, the composer joins a similar time. Then I'm upgrading my designs and costumes. After a bit, we put all the thoughts in our heads into one product and looked at what is coming out. Only then will the entire improved version be transferred to the theater stage.
Birutė Ukrinaitė / J. Photo: Kazencevait
– Does the script designer have more creative freedom, or does the director have a major influence on his work?
– It depends on many things – the director, the games, the other thoughts, but usually what I see in the viewer is made by me and the director. And when you stay for yourself, you are the greatest judge for yourself.
– Does that mean you are asking for it yourself?
– Yeah, man has to be like that. However, when you demand it yourself, you become both one and the other, which is the fault … I think that the theater must determine the internal courts in front of all the details that came deep inside. And when you come up with a setup, costumes, you have to trust with others to communicate nicely. Already in my life, I wanted to get to the theater and "sing" all my life: I came so ready that I would not ask others and communicate with people very easily. However, it still fails (smile).
When you ask for yourself, you become one and the other, which is already a mistake.
– Do you follow the rules of creativity or are you more interested in intuition?
– The basic rules are the material itself, the game – I can not go through its frames. However, an important idea is how to get out of this "book" material and make it "edible", understandable to the viewer. For example, if it is written in the text that the fence is on the stage, I never put it. I try to make the viewer realize that it is a fence, but in reality it would not be there. And the ideas about such scenic solutions seem unexpected – "transit, deep under water …" Mathematically, I can not quantify, when and how the true mind comes, I can not judge that I will do just this today and I will do it. I'd rather wait for the idea of how to convince the viewer.
– You are one of the few artists who produce scenes. When and for what purpose are these scenic models?
– I made the models in my workshop, after I re-arranged the material with the direction, so that they could "sing" to the theater. Drawings and layout help me not only to solve the problems, but also to the technical performance of the team to perform.
– What memories are accompanied by one of your first works in this theater – "Girių giesmė" Lesya Ukrainka, directed by Gytis Padegimas, and invited to participate?
– We, members of the team crew, were all young at that time and at night we lived for dinner. We were full of ideas burned with the desire to perform them, and we were looking for things that we may have already discovered, such as a burner, which covers the entire field of 150 meters before we use it. Or – how to continue asphalt to be "sound" in performance. We tried to find such nice things because we could afford it and it was really wonderful. The performance was held on a small venue in the yard, under the open sky, which we saw as a lawn mower in the sky: leaf or nell?
– At the moment, together with director Gychi Padegimas, you are creating Algirdas Landsbergis's "Wind in the Will" game. What kind of mood and basic idea do you want to convey to viewers?
– Just the closeness. Heat among people, good relationships as value. The idea is that despite the guns, we need to assess our timeliness and importance every day. In fact, it was at the beginning of the idea to build a performance outside the stage, but in the church. Contact with this place is close to me and the text itself. Now it seems that they have moved the space to Long Hall all the time, the thoughts that I wanted to reveal in the church moved together.
– As for the place to perform, does it have a strong impact on your scenes?
– Yes, the area has a particularly important impact. One of the venues may change slightly, others are as they are, and all must adapt. Let's say you would manage a lot of space. Other artists feel afraid, for example in the opera scene, where the scales are bigger, and for me, the bigger the room is better. From the church to the Long Hall there was the challenge "Shallow in the Worms".
– You make costumes for this performance.
– The game clearly shows the year – the sixteenth century. When I talked about costumes, I stylized this century. Some details come from the sixteenth century, then I move them to the present and sign up for each player. I find it important to know who plays – I need to get to know this person, even if I watch it for five minutes so I can get some clothes for him. The most important principle that I think is: the costume must not help and hinder the player.
– The last question is: where are you sitting in the hall during the general exercise in order to best evaluate the end result?
– I am sitting alone during the last exercise. The most important thing is that I have around an empty space, at least two places in all directions.
Premiere of performance by A. Landsbergis "Winds in the Cords" – 7, 9, 23 December In the Long Hall of the National Drama Theater in Kaunas.