Miraculous Lithuania: the national open-air mysteries in Lithuania between the wars

  • Šarūnė Trinkūnaitė
Keywords: mystery, national open-air mystery, national theatre, mass performance, celebratory performaance, national community/sociality, sacrum, collective empathy, emotional impact, utopia


In the wake of the wave of disappointment with the patriotic repertoire of the new-established State Theatrewhich seemed not to respond to the desire of the celebrating nation, an alternative theatre – theatre of national mass open-air mysteries, mostly organized by the Christian youth organization – came to life in Lithuania in the 1920-ies and gained in popularity. These celebratory performances were devoted to the synthesis of Christian and national ideologies; their main subject was the rebirth of Lithuania as a God’s miracle. This miraculous Lithuania was supposed to become a real experience, i.e. the masses participating in these performances were supposed to be like a continuation of the sacred, blessed-by-God Lithuania represented in the mass hero (chorus) of the plays. However, this turned out to be an utopic project. Miraculuos Lithuania was too inconvincible, too artificial, at a too big distance from the real Lithuania to become a model for the living present. That was one of the main reasons why the national open-air mysteries turned into the lifeless pathetics in the end of the1920-ies and started to vanish in the beginning of the 1930-ies.