80 SEASON

Thirty years is the normal span of one sociopolitical cycle. It was more or less the length of our first independence as well as the Cold War, which also brought about economic boom in Europe. The era of neoliberalism, which culminated in the global financial crisis of 2008, didn’t break the cycle either.

Today we are mostly focused on those three decades since March 11, 1990, which, according to the late Leonidas Donskis, happened to us suddenly – without long overtures – as a miracle. During this time, we have been learning what freedom is and what it is not. We have been learning to debate and find the courage to express our opinions even if we find ourselves at the opposite ends of a dispute, as well as to elegantly accept another person’s opinion, position, to show empathy for his or her story and worldview. We have been learning to ask questions and find answers, and to orient ourselves in the endless labyrinths of free choices.

So today, as we are about to start our 80th season, we want to ask a question – has our freedom become rhetorical in the past 30 years? Do endless choices and the reluctance to choose a clear idea or a specific position happen to be the ideology of today? Perhaps, as we tried to escape from one ideology, we ended up in the grip of another? This new ideology, which is characterized by the avoidance of moral dilemmas and the pressure to have a single historical truth acceptable to all residents of Lithuania, is built on fear. The fear of thinking, choosing what is important, the fear of expressing your opinion if it is not a popular one. Because if you find the courage to say what you think, you risk being lynched by the public – in internet comments, in texts, on TV, radio, or podcasts, in memes, gifs and online folklore. In the past thirty years, we have mastered the art of witch-hunting and lynching, which perfectly supports the syndrome of a contemporary serf.

One of the most prominent philosophers and thinkers from Vilnius, the great Vilna Gaon Elijah Ben Solomon Zalman, created a highly effective educational system based on asking the right question. This made Vilnius famous throughout the world. The biggest problem in our society today are the attempts to silence inconvenient questions and to hush those who disturb the peace. The truth is presented as single and non-negotiable, and people who question the dogmas risk being dealt with publicly. This fear robs us of what we once fought for – the freedom to look for answers.

So this season we invite you to come and watch the performances and discuss the different approaches without trying to blend them into one indivisible truth. We invite you to discuss the moral choice dilemmas arising during tectonic fractures in public consciousness, such as the recent discussions on male-female relationships, power, powerlessness, system vs individual, and public space vs private space. Perhaps our society, a considerable part of which is made of the post-Independence generation, may have different views and at the same time keep away from aggressive conflicts and manipulations? 


Martynas Budraitis

Director General of the Lithuanian National Drama Theater