Actresses Who Sing About Beautiful and Those Other Women

By Dovilė Zavedskaitė 2020 06 03 APAC info
Performance-concert “The Beautiful and That Powerful One”. Photo by Eglė Sabaliauskaitė
Performance-concert “The Beautiful and That Powerful One”. Photo by Eglė Sabaliauskaitė

“The Beautiful and That Other” is a troupe of six young women established in 2015 in Klaipėda Youth Theatre. The members are former students of Valentinas Masalskis' class: actresses Vaiva Kvedaravičiūtė, Rugilė Latvėnaitė, Ieva Pakštytė, Asta Zacharovaitė, Marija Žemaitytė, Neringa Krunglevičiūtė (meantime in the maternity leave). They started their genre-wise exclusive activity as a troupe with a performance-concert “The Beautiful and That Other” (2016) which drew the concept of a stage as a place for playing, provocation, and caricature. In their performances, the music matches with theatricality, dance, comedy, self-irony, and active resolution of social positions. For them, a costume, a character, a song, a dialect, choreography are ways of capturing and questioning the feel of feminine, Lithuanian, theatrical, and historic identity. Their stage language is close to the cabaret genre, but underneath this seemingly entertaining layer, reside eternal myths and analysis of human values. The charisma of the troupe operating as one contributes a lot to the value of its artistic activity: all of them and each of them separately are firstly interesting as personalities who not only have what to say but also have a way of how to say it. Perhaps it's the reason today “The Beautiful and That Other” already can be called a social phenomenon: their activeness in social media, a music video presented at the beginning of 2020, and their theatrical concerts that already have their own audience receive response and admiration in public.

According to the members of the troupe, the origin of their name is firstly related to rethinking the concept of beauty as an experience: quoting the definition of beauty given in Wikipedia (beauty is the ascription of a property or characteristic to an animal, idea, object, person or place that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction), actresses pay our attention to a joke that is popular among males, about two girlfriends and how one of them is always beautiful and the other is the one who is not. Actress Ieva Pakštytė says: “We want to say that it's not clear which one of them is beautiful, and which one is clever. And that it's not that one of them is beautiful - that other is beautiful as well. <...> I've never felt I was that beautiful one. I've always felt I was that other.” Talking about the situation of a young woman in our society and this situation's evolution from a historic perspective, the actresses develop their collective creations consisting of their texts and original music which they compose themselves. “It was interesting for us to expand our pre-existent experiences in acting and music”, says one of the members of the troupe, Rugilė Latvėnaitė on choosing their form of music. It's not only impossible but also unneeded to define the exact music genre these young women create - it's unpredictable and dynamic, tending to surprise, combining different musical priorities of each member and aiming for united melodicism.

Their first performance, “Beautiful and That Other”, discussed the day-to-day and, according to the creators, comic side of man and woman's relationship: the differences between outlooks on the relationship as such, gender-based stereotypes, problems of a couple's life (never-ending to some and incomprehensible to others). Actresses claim that most of our everyday situations in fact are worth if not a good laugh, then at least a smile, and in their first performance-concert, they established the esthetics of ironic approach on us and themselves, as well as the courage to modify the clichés. According to the members of the troupe, the musical painting of the performance was changing from psychedelic rave to progressive rock, from uncultured rap to sexy funk, from beautiful to that other.

In their second performance-concert, “The Beautiful and That Powerful One” (2018), the eclecticism of music genres was supplemented with interwar jazz, folk music, rock-pop ballads, blues, and other motifs. The artists took on to analyze the portraits of Lithuanian women who gained a significant place in Lithuanian history. While glorifying the figures of GDL duchesses Barbora Radvilaitė and Bona Sforza, president Dalia Grybauskaitė, Soviet female guerrilla Marytė Melnikaitė, female writers Žemaitė and Liūnė Janušytė, and others, creators try to find the connection between the modern Lithuanian woman and the women who lived in this geographical latitude several centuries ago. Celebrating the Centennial of the Restored State of Lithuania, the themes of this performance-concert sounded relevant, while they also poked at important subjects of today - gender equality, LGBT, and women's rights. One of the values of the performance is archives on woman's situation in different historic periods that are brought to light for the viewers. Actress Asta Zacharovaitė notes a conflict between conservative supporters of being strict Lithuanians and promoters of “free living” that was happening in interwar Lithuania: “Quite a lot of sources survived till our days that show how this conflict was taking place in the media. For example, one side puts an article about how they're going to arrange the first beauty contest of Lithuanian women. Soon after that, another article appears where the other side states that there will not be and there can't be any contest of such kind because women can't be compared according to their looks as if they were cows in an exhibition and that it would be a lot wiser to arrange a contest of the most moral women.”

The development and obstacles of women's emancipation are one of the core themes in “The Beautiful and That Other”. Historic women's contribution to the image of nowadays Lithuanian woman also plays an important role in this performance. Actress Rugilė Latvėnaitė says: “We usually have different images of the women that were important in our history and we tend to think that moral evaluation of their work is a historical fact. Only when we started exploring scientific texts, did we managed to shake off preliminary opinions we had - they were not true, but they're still supported in public.

In her review “I Wasn't Bad to Myself” (, theatre critic Dovilė Zavedskaitė writes: “The motif of woman power is the core one in the performance-concert “The Beautiful and That Other. <...> All the stories told through songs are naïve, single-planned and laconic, but this shallowness is compensated with these five young women's liveliness, manners, and red passion not only to what is happening on stage but, it seems, to the womanhood itself. <...> Stereotypes which are sung about a lot, are decontaminated with the atmosphere of a good romp, where you want to take a close look at each member of this quintuplet. To take a look at each authentic personality because each face is a separate and powerful story that wishes to be told aloud.” Zavedskaitė also highlights distinctive musical experience, which is being created from fragmentary and on-changing acoustic conditions, which are so impactful due to this constant change.

In his review “Striptease for Women's Rights”, theatre critic Vaidas Jauniškis ( writes: “But we've all come out of this hay, the actresses of Klaipėda Youth Theatre say, because having explored problems of Lithuanian women's emancipation, they've put every possible thing into that agrarian culture, having found out why we are the way we are today. <...> The main effect and joy of the performance are recognizing the women that are talked about on stage, and if we don't know one or two of them, we can look for info about them later. <...> Decision to tell the story of Žemaitė in cabaret style could've been a way out to choose this genre for the whole concert - it would be more open and more familiar for the singing actresses. But music and beautiful playing are not enough for that, you'd need poems which would be more distant from the long-forgotten epigram genre.”

After more than a year from the premiere of “The Beautiful and That Other”, the song about female Lithuanian writer Žemaitė, written in the Samogitian dialect, became a music video that got hundreds of thousands of views and a huge response in social networks and media.

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