TALES FROM THE VIENNA WOODS A famous play by Ödön von Horváth that offers a scathing depiction of the Viennese petty bourgeoisie, which played a crucial role in the rise of National Socialism in the interwar period. Yana Ross and Mindaugas Nastaravičius set the play in contemporary Lithuania, provocatively turning the deprivation and humiliations following the loss of the First World War into the ‘victorious’ period following Lithuania’s regained independence in 1991. The binaries of winning and losing that frame the source text are tested to their limits in these cultural conditions. From the outset, Ross exposes the broad (and often ambiguous) spectrum of social consequences of independence, for both its seeming victors and its obvious losers.
The eponymous ‘Vienna Woods’ is transformed into a former gymnasium that can now be rented for parties, funerals or weddings. The set is a downtrodden interior of functional Soviet-era architecture, which draws attention to the pomposity of the former system and the austerity and dispossessions of the current one. The pink paint on the walls has been hurriedly and inaccurately applied to slouching walls and the parquet floor bubbles from flooding that signals broken pipes and poor heating systems. (…) This world is a patchwork that barely holds together. One tries but never quite gets it right. Life in this place accumulates as a series of exhausting, comical and humiliating rituals (parties, funerals, and weddings). And it is clear that there is nowhere else for these people to go. Even when characters exit the stage you sense them hovering in the wings, lost, directionless.
– BRYCE LEASE, The Theatre Times
YANA ROSS (1973) She grew up in Latvia and spent her childhood between Europe, Russia and USA. After graduation with an MFA from Yale School of Drama in 2006, Ross collaborated with Nobel Prize laureate Elfriede Jelinek, directing her plays Sleeping Beauty and Bambiland. She continues to work internationally from Berlin’s Volksbühne (where in 2008 she was the first female director at the main stage in the theatre’s history) to Iceland, Switzerland and Finland to the Seoul Performing Arts Festival in South Korea. She received the John Gassner Memorial prize for her work ‘Russian Theater: The Twenty-first Century’, a special project in her role as managing editor at Yale Theater magazine. From the 2019–2020 season to the 2022–2023 season, Ross is a member of the permanent artistic team of Schauspielhaus Zürich.
VALSTYBINIS JAUNIMO TEATRAS (STATE YOUTH THEATRE) was founded in 1965. From the early 1970s Dalia Tamulevičiūtė (1940–2006) directed there, and her name has been firmly connected with the theatre ever since: from 1975 she was the artistic head of the theatre, and today’s company consists mostly of her students or her students’ students. The theatre experienced a significant era between 1980 and 1986, when the young Eimuntas Nekrošius directed there – his productions with the theatre were highly acclaimed not only in Lithuania, but in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Finland, Italy, at the famous Belgrade festival BITEF and on tour in the US. Last year, the theatre presented an adaptation of the novel Austerlitz directed by Krystian Lupa at the Pilsen festival.