Lithuanian Culture Institute
Lithuanian Culture Guide, Theatre

Agnius Jankevičius


“Pavojingi ryšiai”. Photo by D. Stankevičius

The most productive theatre director of his generation, Agnius Jankevičius (b. 1979) studied directing at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, where he received his BA and MA. His debut play, The Beyond (2001), based on the short story collection The Blue Lantern by Victor Pelevin, was recognised as the best play at the Setkání/Encounter festival for theatre schools in Brno. Apart from the Czech Republic, the play was also staged in the Netherlands and Russia. Jankevičius has been teaching at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre since 2010.

Working as an independent director, Jankevičius has created over 30 plays in various theatres in Lithuania. He participates actively in various theatre forums, actions and festivals, and also organises play readings. His productions have been shown in Belarus, Israel, Finland, Slovenia, Russia and Ukraine.

Jankevičius is interested in people who find themselves beyond the bounds of normal society, and the reasons for it. Deformed characters, heightened physical and vocal expression, and a critical tone, are all characteristics of his plays, which are based on both classic and contemporary literary works, as well as original scripts. His plays have won awards at theatre festivals in Lithuania, and in 2008 the creative team of Isadora, the mono-opera Jankevičius directed, won the Golden Cross of the Stage award.

In 2012, the director founded Bad Rabbits, a syndicate with a broad artistic profile, together with some of his former students. This alternative theatre collective seeks to put up partisan opposition to traditional theatrical expression, and openly declares a critical stance towards the political situation, something that is not common among theatre practitioners in Lithuania. Bad Rabbits is a member of EFETSA (the European Federation for Education and Training in Street Arts). It should be noted that in recent years, the clear, even provocative political stance and social criticism have been becoming more and more prominent in the work Jankevičius creates for other theatres as well.

In the performance Dangerous Liaisons (2019, co-production with the Mens Publica theatre) created at the Kaunas National Drama Theatre, Jankevičius turns the intimate games of the cream of the French society at the end of the 18th century depicted in Christopher Hampton’s play into a mirror of unchanged gender roles in the 21st century. Having further simplified certain plot lines, Jankevičius talks (in fact, as he always does) about society and its double standards – this time, moral standards. The model of society is summarised and dissected right here, in front of that very society, but without forgetting the precautions: there is a fence that protects the stage from the spectators and the spectators from the stage. Against the backdrop of #metoo headlines that neither the Lithuanian theatre scene could avoid, the performance offers pessimistic conclusions: dangerous liaisons still lie in wait of young and older women and men, and some can still afford to behave whatever way they want, on both sides of the fence.