History of National Kaunas drama theatre

This theatre had the honorable mission of starting a professional theatre. It was accompanied by a succession of names: it began life as the Drama Playhouse with the premiere of H. Sudermann’s “Midsummer” on 19 December 1920, and later took wings as the State Theatre (1925). During the difficult years of the German occupation, it was called the Bolshoi Theatre, and at one point it was even called the Kaunas State Musical Drama Theatre (1950). It settled with the name of the State Academic Drama Theatre until 2012, when it was given its twelfth name and its current status as a national theatre.

The theatre settled in its current home in 1959.After the first drama was staged at the City Theatre, now Kaunas State Music Theatre, and after several decades of sharing the stage with its opera and ballet brethren, the theatre managed to settle in the building of the inter-war cinema “Metropolitan” (1928). Even equipped with the most modern technology, it has not lost the spirit of the interwar period and its unique Art Deco style.

It was the birthplace of the national drama that flourished between the wars, and the birthplace of the art of stage design, generations of theatre directors and composers. For more than 100 years, the theatre’s creative wealth has been nurtured by several hundred actors – personalities who have shaped the history of Lithuanian theatre.

The theatre, whose origins established the example of the political literacy of the then young Lithuanian state, spoke tirelessly about freedom, and when it was lost, our silent resistance took place, it saw the dawn of the emerging state, and felt the 30 years of new independence.

More than 100 years of history can still be experienced today with a stroll through the gallery created for the Theatre’s centenary. It starts from the façade and leads to the archway to the inner courtyards of the theatre. The uncharted, unexplored spaces of the theatre courtyard are like the backstage of a theatre. They invite you not only to see, but also to feel the spirit of theatre history and creativity for yourself. Or visit the theatre’s extensive archive and explore more than 600 performances.

Theatre Gallery 100: personalities make history

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The exhibition presents an alternative version of the history of professional theatre: there is no chronology, no linear narrative, no clear narrative. The exhibition is like theatre itself and its history – free, unconstrained, unrestricted by rules and norms, and above all, always open to the viewer’s interpretations, to a conversation about theatre’s past, present and future forms.

The 11 works in the exhibition combine and mix not only personalities, past and present, but also different media and artistic forms. Sculpture, photography, ceramics, glass and installation art tell the story of the birth, creation and current maturity of a single professional theatre as diverse as these media.

For an audio guide and route map of the exhibition, see the walk15 app.


Theatre is said to exist here and now. The performance is alive in the present, taking place in the eyes and minds of the audience, as they experience the moment. What remains after the applause of the audience has died down, after a season, a decade or even a century has passed? The theatre’s archive holds an impressive treasure trove of information on more than 600 theatre productions created over the course of its century-long existence. Information about the creators of legendary plays, posters, programs, reviews, play texts, testify to the theatre’s creative development, historical personalities and signs of the times.

Archive of the theatre

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Gift card

It's the best gift ever! All you need to know is the amount you want to give and the person can choose the performance. The gift card can be exchanged for tickets at the box office and on the internet, the balance can be kept for your next shopping trip and the shortfall can be paid in advance.


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