The Most Excellent and Lamentable PLAN B

Music, theatre and video performance based on Herluf Bidstrup’s cartoons

The Most Excellent and Lamentable PLAN B is a performance that brings together music and theatre, image and sound, higher school students and graduates, still unknown and already famous, artists of the young generation who work in Lithuania and those who return from abroad for performances. They all have built and inhabited the theatre “house” where everything appears to be the same as in the outside world, yet everything is very different. It has its own laws, its own logic, its sky and hell, angels and little imps. As it should, the identity of the PLAN B is reinforced by its own language. Trust me, after the performance you are sure to say “Tchke!!!”.

The performance is based upon the cartoons of the Danish artist Herluf Bidstrup (1912–1988). The idea to bring back from oblivion the funny drawings that we saw in our childhood in the old book bound in green, appeared an attractive challenge to the new generation. Vidas Bareikis, the performance director and leader of the theatre movement “No Theatre” sought for an improvisational key to the caricatures drawn by Bidstrup accurately depicting everyday situations. Composer Rūta Vitkauskaitė created an audio drawing for them performed live by a musicians’ ensemble and the actors. The play was first showcased on December 5, 2013, marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, on the main stage of the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre. Presented by students, whose class was led by theatre director Oskaras Koršunovas, it was their first serious test on a professional stage where the set designer Simona Biekšaitė constructed a conceptual live space for an interdisciplinary performance, while the costume designer Liuka Songailaitė gave every character a finished graphic form.

The title of the play The Most Excellent and Lamentable PLAN B focuses not only on the search for its plan, its language, but also on the so-called man’s second plan that is hidden in all of us. Bidstrup’s cartoons depict the human “facade” and that PLAN B, which becomes visible only under certain circumstances. Besides, this humoristic material serves as creative inspiration for the young creators of the play.

Director Vidas Bareikis

I have studied music since my childhood and I never understood how one could call this phenomenon “a background element”. Music has colour, emotions, state, tempo, body – moreover, music has an extraordinary feature that it can never to be ignored. If you focus your rational mind on some other element, the music being played at the time will sink in and stay in your subconscious, from which it will not be so easy to remove. The PLAN B is a kind of a game, where the musical picture that exists along wonderful images and acting, keeps drawing its own synthesising, yet individual and clear line.

Composer Rūta Vitkauskaitė

When the curtain is parted you will see yourself and me in black and white
Are you ready?
Follow the course of the story.

Set designer Simona Biekšaitė

Regarding the costumes – the “Plan B” had only a Plan A: I went to a rehearsal, saw it, had a dream. Young energy, musical language, unknown but easily understood by everyone, the set – they have provoked and defined the concept of costumes: youthful maximalism is expressed through minimalist means, so that some room is left for wonderful music and youth. Less is more would probably be the most suitable description.

Costume designer Liuka Songailaitė

Never seen or heard, a mixture of various languages perfectly illustrated the essence of the cartoons. Often, caricature drawings have no words as well, yet everyone understands them. Drawings represent a universal language. Same goes with the stage – although there were few intelligible words, it was easy to grasp the meaning of the action. <…> Music served as yet another language of the characters, placing sounds, rather than words, into actor’s mouths. And it does not matter that at times the actors’ singing and their occasional disregard for intonation could bring the smile to one’s face. What matters is the overall mood and that was very jolly.

Rūta Šiugždaitė, Literatūra ir menas

… First, it should be said that the play or rather the project is indeed rather entertaining. It is great to step in and have a look at the witty world of the cartoons with slight ironic fortuity and the upside-down logic of routine social life. It is still greater to do all this on the stage of the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre that is no stranger to certain logic, themes, colours or simply theatre routine. Moreover, live music accounts for an important part of the project as well. The musical ensemble in the orchestra pit of the country’s main theatre is also a pleasantly surprising and refreshing picture, serving yet another manifestation of the increasingly frequent appearance of the phantom of Lithuanian musical theatre.

Paulius Javsas, Literatūra ir menas

Those who want to cautiously find out the taste of Lithuanian contemporary music should start with this play – your appetite would only build up.

Agnė Biliūnaitė,