Inventing the Past, Re-Writing the Present

The History and Memory on Contemporary Lithuanian Theatre Stage


  • Jurgita Staniškytė Vytautas Magnus University



Autobiography, History, Lithuanian theatre, Memory, Representation


In recent years an increasing number of performances on the Baltic theatre stage attempt to escape the dominant understanding of “performing history” as a repetition or reinforcement of the monumental representations of the historical past or as a (re)production of “mythistory” (Joseph Mali). Lithuanian creators of performances about history increasingly choose hybrid approaches of representation, merging memorialization and critique, imagination and fact, documents and speculative inventions as forms of engagement with the past. This playful re-imagination of the historical past serves as a creative laboratory, where audience ability to recognize and/or resist historical manipulations as well as to embrace plural and polyphonic nature of memory are tested. In some cases, however, Lithuanian theatre creators are interested in “truthful” or “authentic” representations of personal memories, rather than a performative investigation of
mechanisms of production of the “reality effect” in historiography and their impact on audience perception. This article examines the ways in which historical events are represented on the contemporary Lithuanian theatre stage and, at the same time, addresses the larger issues around the implications of particular theatrical
stagings of the past on the current understanding of the subject of history.

Author Biography

Jurgita Staniškytė, Vytautas Magnus University

Jurgita Staniškytė (dr.) heads the Faculty of Arts and is a Professor of Theatre Studies Department at Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania). She has published numerous scientific and critical articles on contemporary Lithuanian theatre in the context of the processes of Baltic stage art, performative aspects of post-soviet Lithuanian culture, creative communication and audience development. She serves as the Board member of HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) and the Governing Board member of EU Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on Cultural Heritage and Global Change. She was recently elected to the position of chairman of the Board of “Kaunas the European Capital of Culture 2022”. She has published four monographs.


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How to Cite

Staniškytė, J. (2020). Inventing the Past, Re-Writing the Present: The History and Memory on Contemporary Lithuanian Theatre Stage. Nordic Theatre Studies, 31(2), 61–72.



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