Premiere of "Der Prozess" at the LNOBT: the Moving Target

On 1 and 2 December Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre shall be welcoming an exclusive new ballet premiere “Der Prozess“, created by an entirely Lithuanian creative team after the famous novel by Franz Kafka.

In his “Der Prozess” Kafka wrote: “It is better for the suspect to keep on moving, rather than sit still – one who keeps still can at any time appear on a pair of scales along with all his sins, and not even notice that it happened”. Choreographer Martynas Rimeikis, who calls his work a contemporary ballet, intends to capture the essence of the novel through movement: “I think that to writer F. Kafka the image of a bureaucratic system that crushes an individual was merely a tool that he used to speak about essential values – freedom and guilt. Josef K. freedom is first and foremost restricted by the fact that people who surround him are already certain that he is guilty. And it depends only on a person if he will accept the blame that is insistently imposed upon him or refuse it. Some people begin believing they’re guilty after some time, while others preserve their hope and struggle even on their way to the guillotine”.

Author of the libretto, essayist and researcher of literature Laurynas Katkus describes his role in the process of creating new ballet as that of a midwife: “In the beginning, there was a novel by Kafka – to my mind, it is one of the few realistic stories about what is really going on in the world of banks and clerks. And then there was Martynas Rimekis’ wish to produce a ballet based on the novel. I tried to “interrogate” Martynas and find out, which things in this timeless story are most important to him, and what do they mean. This naturally turned into discussions about which direction should the story of the ballet take, and how the composition should be formed”.

Composer Mindaugas Urbaitis was originally invited to the project as a music consultant, however, he soon turned into the author of the entire ballet. “When choreographer Martynas Rimeikis and myself first met to discuss the music for a ballet set after Franz Kafka’s novel, we didn’t yet have an image of how it should appear. As I delved deeper into the idea behind the production and the libretto by Laurynas Katkus and Martynas Rimeikis, I decided to look for musical ideas in the time in which Kafka wrote his novel. To create the specific sound of ballet’s music, I offered the choreographer to use motives from Hungarian composer Béla Bartók‘s oeuvre. In the end, the music of this ballet was inspired by Bartók’s characteristic short motives, thematic or sometimes only intonational material, its expressive energy. These elements worked as stepping stones for the original score of the new ballet, reflecting both the idea of the choreographer and Kafka’s novel. The music, however, doesn’t recount the situations depicted in the novel or those happening in the ballet – it is rather more abstract and generalized, inspiring dance and movement”.

Choreographer Martynas Rimeikis also claims that the principal part of Josef K. is going to be one of the most physically and psychologically demanding in the entire male repertoire of the ballet company: Josef K. spends almost the entire time of the ballet on stage. During the three premieres planned in December, this difficult main role is set to be taken by ballet soloists Jeronimas Krivickas and Ernest Barčaitis.

The monumental sets of “Der Prozess” were created by Marijus Jacovskis, costumes – by designer Jurgita Jankutė. The music director and conductor of the production is Modestas Barkauskas.