Kaunas Spring ’72 is a performance inspired by Romas Kalanta and the events that took place in mid-May 1972 in Kaunas when a young 19-year-old man set himself on fire in the City Garden as a protest against the Soviet regime. This act of self-sacrifice was followed by a wave of youth resistance against the Soviet government and power structures.
However, the creative team of the performance does not go back to the Soviet times; it does not try to reconstruct the events of the past and does not tell the story of Romas Kalanta either. In Kaunas Spring ’72, factual evidence overlaps with ingenuity and a modern look at the events of 1972 in Kaunas. The performance raises the question of how the act of the 19-year-old Romas Kalanta resonates in today’s society. It also aims to build a certain bridge of consciousness between today’s Lithuanian youth with their world perception and the possible feelings of a nineteen-year-old youth of that time, living in the environment formed by oppression, suspicions, and imposed social structure. The performance, based on the principle of co-creativity, analyses the moods, expectations, and tensions of the period called Kaunas Spring, while the story inspired by Kalanta and his supporters becomes a surreal fragment of the collective memory in the big picture of European and worldwide liberation movements.
In preparation for the opening performance, the creative team looked for universal situations and stories that would allow a young team of actors of creating a theatrical reality based on “here and now” emotional and social tensions between an individual and society, between the need for individual expression and a person’s dependence on the strict rules of co-existence and the relationship with the authorities. In addition, the performance aims at discovering semantic connections between the society of so-called Brezhnev’s “stagnation era” and a modern and liberal Western world, where, as it seems, people enjoy unrestricted personal and creative freedoms; however, they rarely mobilise around common goals, unifying aspirations, and ideas.
The team of Kaunas Spring ’72 does not develop a critical attitude towards the society created back then by our parents and grandparents. It also does not promote today’s world of Western values. The team only seeks to playfully highlight the parallels between the society of those times and today’s Lithuanian society, which are affected by different geopolitical, social, and emotional contexts. The team also raises questions: are the act of Romas Kalanta’s sacrifice and the events following it only a thing of the past? Is history truly repeating itself? Where are You then trapped?
Performance is part of the Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 programme.
Opening performances on 13, 14, and 15 May 2022 at the Long Hall
Duration –2 hours ( no intermission)
Donatas Stankevičius photos
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