One Million Steps to Kaunas
Here comes a third story from the Tandem cooperation between Sabina Barbiš, Skaiste Jurene and Tamás Buvári. This time, with Tamás - the man in the mirror - visiting Skaiste in Kaunas.
"We are calm and hopeful. We are going to work hard because we believe that we will create something very powerful and uplifting. What we find important to realise. We know: the many people who will be affected in the programme will have a sincere desire to go forward. They will recognise the others feelings, wonders and fears. They will help each other in reality and invisibly. That is what we need."
An almost endless long journey has led to this, but it is worth it. Starting from the time when I met the Lithuanian organisations in Rijeka, they seemed to me the most exotic and most exciting. Then it developed differently. Then it did not. So now, I’m here. Lithuania, Kaunas.
Our Tandem cooperation is composed of the Kaunas National Drama Theatre, an Adriatic coast organisation from Malinska, and the SzeretFilm Studio from Veszprém, Hungary. Adria, Nemunas, Neris, Balaton. Water is what connects us. The cooperation will be about this worshipful and vital element.
Lithuania is clean, crisp, well-recognisable. Clearly visible the man, as in the mirror. You can avoid it, it can change you quickly. Tranquility and cool elegance characterise the city. The main pedestrian street is just renovated, next to the hotel where I’m staying. The dramatic theater is also on the pedestrian street, which I can walk to and around, and because of the many attractive architecture I can hardly find it.
Skaiste is the host, and Sabina from Malinska is in the city as well. The three of us are intensively walking and talking through the heart of the past and contemporary culture, the urban existence.
The city seems to me to have used all the support since the accession of the European Union in 2004. Of course, development is more important to me if it happens in spirit and in the heart. But here I see more solidarity, a more peaceful and diverse society, not shouting harshly, not using billboards for political propaganda. They seem happy if they can walk with their children along the street at any time of the day. In the past, people of Kaunas have seen their share of tragedy: there were suppressors of the Germans, the Poles, the Russians, this country fought hard for freedom. And freedom is a fragile thing, as we would all agree.
The city is surrounded by two rivers. Yes. This is what we are going to focus on, we know, so that is the way we look at it.
I have looked into the map of history, religion, at our strong cultural ties. It reminds me that I fully understand why Kaunas will be the capital of culture in 2022. The theatre fascinates me. It is not a great nor a small one. Un-intrusive, it has a strong atmosphere, a commitment to theatre, art, humanity, with a team of very nice people. I feel almost at home here.
We did a lot of thinking about the project while trying to get to know each other. I feel like we succeeded and it is a good feeling.
As the cultural capital here is the broader region also involved in Kaunas2022. This is why we are thinking of taking the programme outside of the city and realise it in an area where the community might be more in need of cooperation and where our presence has more advantage to use the river in everyday life. We visit two streams of coastal small villages: Kulautuva and Kačergine, beautiful places, with very nice and motivated people. The community is open to give us a place and a guest view.
The river glitters, a slow-motion buzzer, finally I can see the first ship in Lithuania.
We meet the Kaunas European Capital of Culture (ECOC) team. Anna and Agnes are smiling, the weather is a bit chill, the coffee is very tasty. We talk about important and serious things in a friendly mood. The local Bossbek looks like our project idea. We are calm and hopeful. We are going to work hard because we believe that we will create something very powerful and uplifting. What we find important to realise. We know: the many people who will be affected in the programme will have a sincere desire to go forward. They will recognise the others’ feelings, wonders and fears. They will help each other in reality and invisibly. That is what we need.
Yes, it is clean like the water. And as a man in the mirror. Thank you for stepping in.