Theatre is only possible when there is a director with his own theatre vision. The history of the State Small Theatre of Vilnius is firstly the theatre vision history of director Rimas Tuminas. Rimas Tuminas staged his first performance in 1978, theatre critics spoke about a distinctive theatrical language, about performances which “became example of more conditional psychological acting, which was based on poetical, lyrical elements and proved the director’s intentions to search for his own theatre language, to experiment”.

Despite a collected talented group, creative success, lots of created performances, the theatre did not have its premises for many years. The troupe of Vilnius Small Theatre usually rehearsed and acted in the Small Hall of the National Drama Theatre, the troupe actors were called “small”. For this reason this name was chosen for the theatre.
On March 2, 1990, The State Small Theatre of Vilnius was established. This is the day when theatre started counting its history. The first official opening was Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”, director Rimas Tuminas, took place on December 23, 1990. This performance is an undoubted long-term success of the theatre. In the history of Lithuanian theatre of the XX century, A. Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” will firstly be identified with this theatre.

Rimas Tuminas, when looking for premises for his theatre, walked through all Vilnius. In the new home, in very heart of Vilnius, Gediminas avenue 22, the State Small Theatre of Vilnius finally settled in autumn of 2005. Thus, nearly fourteen years went by without own roof. The building of the theatre is exceptional for its rich cultural past as well as for its architecture. In the XIX century there was Grand Theatre of Vilnius, which burned down later. In the building, which was built at the turn of XIX and XX centuries, there was a society “Rūta” (1909-1914), important to Lithuanian culture, in the activity of which Signer of the Declaration of Independence Jonas Basanavičius participated, and Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis painted the stage curtain. The building is also related with the names of Czeslaw Milosz, Jaschos Heifetz and other famous cultural figures. The audience hall has a unique ceiling arch of glass blocks – there are only two such type ceilings remaining in Europe – here, in Vilnius and in Prague. When studying, the director had visited the current theatre premises and remembered the impressive arch of glass blocks. When thinking of directing Bertold Brecht’s “Galilei” (1992), Rimas Tuminas imagined the performance in such space, with a huge arch.

The performances directed by Rimas Tuminas, such as “The Cherry Orchard”, “Smile upon us, Lord” (1994), “Masquerade” (1997), “Inspector” (2001) and others visited a number of countries – from Sweden to Italy, from South Korea to Mexico – and won numerous prestigious awards and became the theatre’s visiting card. The viewers did not feel that the theatre had no home, but Rimas Tuminas took actions for the theatre to have it. Rimas Tuminas’ performance “Waiting for Godo”, born in unrepaired and unheated premises in Gediminas avenue at the end of 2002, started a new period of the history of the theatre. In 2004 Rimas Tuminas staged Marius Ivaškevičius’ “Madagascar” with his students of Lithuanian music and theatre academy, which became by far the most significant performance in the history of the Small Theatre. The success of Marius Ivaškevičius as a playwright is mostly related to this theatre. Rimas Tuminas’ performances could hardly do without the composer Faustas Latenas and stage designer Adomas Jacovskis.

The theatre established by Rimas Tuminas would not be so strong and solid for its performance and troupe if it was not for his students, who always supplement the troupe since 1981 when he started pedagogical work in Lithuanian music and theatre academy, department of acting and directing. It is exceptional talent of Rimas Tuminas to organize and educate his actors by implanting exceptional stage art values that are close to them. The Open Theater, fostered by Tuminas, is a theatre of freedom, contrivance and ease. It is a theatre divergent by its faithfulness to the cultural memory and traditions, attentiveness to "old-fashioned” notions and feelings. “You must celebrate the life in theatre. You must open abysms to make a spectator giddy from life, to make him fall in love for at least a moment”, Tuminas says. His theatre is a meeting place for life feast participants.

The current theatre repertory consists of the works by Rimas Tuminas, as well as performances created by young directors and acknowledged Lithuanian and foreign directors.

 

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