Changes in the Repertoire of Lithuanian Theatre from a Postcolonial Perspective

  • Vaidas Jauniškis
Keywords: postcolonialism, censorship, metaphor, trauma, postmodernism, identity, collective memory


The article reviews various theories of postcolonial studies and looks at the theatre productions of the early years of independence through their prism. It examines the repertoire chosen by the theatres as a reaction to the changes in society and analyses constantly changing methods used to represent the transformations.

From this perspective, metaphorical language that brought fame to Lithuanian theatre is linked not only to the talent of the creators, but also to censorship and Aesopian language as a way of circumventing the regime. Paradoxically, this method is still used by young directors.
When Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, theatre took up themes that had been forbidden until then. Memory was one of the main themes for the society to (re)create a fragmented and shattered identity, whether it was national, collective, or personal. Some theatres have attempted to bring back ‘prosthetic memory’ (Alison Landsberg) through experiential performances. Along with postcolonialism comes the time of postmodernism. Both the old Soviet narrative and the new pan-patriotic narrative are deconstructed. Irony, sarcasm, fragmentation, and intertextuality flourish on stage.

Language becomes very important in the new plays, when ‘a choice of language is a choice of identity’ (Simon During). The issue of identity takes centre stage because, according to David Chioni Moore, ‘postcolonial lands are characterised by tensions between the desire for autonomy and a history of dependence [...], between resistance and complicity, and between imitation (or mimicry) and originality’.