by Franz Kafka
directed by Eimuntas Nekrošius
scenery by Marius Nekrošius
costumes by Nadežda Gultiajeva
Viktorija Kuodytė A Hunger Artist
director‘s assistant Tauras Čižas
sound designer Arvydas Dūkšta
lighting designer Audrius Jankauskas
prop man Genadij Virkovskij
produced by Meno Fortas Theatre
with a support of Lithuanian Culture Council
A Hunger Artist is the latest production by Meno Fortas, the Vilnius-based theatre company established by one of Lithuania’s greatest theatre directors, Eimuntas Nekrošius. His innovative interpretation of classical plays, from Shakespeare to Chekhov, and literary works, such as The Song of Songs and Dante’s Divine Comedy, has earned him unfading admiration among local public and innumerable prizes abroad.
Dinner is served!
But will anyone have it?
Imagine a spectator who has read all – all right, just the most esteemed – analytical reviews of A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka. Even for such a person the theatrical interpretation of the writer’s last short story by Eimuntas Nekrošius would absolutely come as a surprise. You unexpectedly discover yourself wearing a tentative smile on at least several occasions while watching this drama – cheerless, just like most of Kafka’s writing – developing on stage. And you experience a slight cognitive discrepancy while seeing the female Hunger Artist instead of the male character created by Kafka. And you might wonder why the Nekrošius’ protagonist always walks free when Kafka depicted him caged.
Literary critics who have tried to analyse this short story by Kafka, came up with a wealth of interpretative ideas concerning its hidden meanings that range from a tragedy of an artist rejected by public to a tragedy of a human who attempted to overcome God. Whoever is right, the theatrical narrative by the splendid Viktorija Kuodytė and the trio of her stage partners – Vaidas Vilius, Vygandas Vadeiša and Genadij Virkovskij – is so powerful and involving that spectators are left with almost no time and will to dig into philosophical connotations until after the performance is over.
All of the sudden, you capture yourself listening to a popular song from your childhood sung by the Hunger Artist or attempting to grasp a short medical lecture on digestion – and, almost unsurprisingly, everything looks and sounds entirely organic. Just like the ascetic minimalism, so much in tune with Kafka. And, most importantly, the four artists on the stage who evoke almost incessant quivers of what some call the soul.