Solo performance based on the memories of the author’s parents and other Lithuanian exiles during 1941-1956 in Siberia
Playwright, Director and Actress – BIRUTE MAR
Composer – ANTANAS KUCINSKAS
Stage Designer – KRISTINA NORVILAITE
Costume Designer – INDRE PACESAITE
Video Artist – KAROLIS BRATKAUSKAS
Choreographer and Assistant director – SIGITA MIKALAUSKAITE
The play has authentic fragments of poems written by the exiles, motifs from the book “Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea” by D. GRINKEVICIUTE and “Generation from Siberia” by E. GUDONYTE
The performance uses photos from the collections of the Lithuanian National and KGB Museums, family archives and drawings by the deported G. MARTYNAITIS
Choral music was recorded by the choir “AIDIJA”
Performance created and shown (2015-2023) at the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre. A renewed performance at Solo Theatre from 2023 October.
Duration: 1 h 20 min.
BIRUTE MAR ABOUT “CHILDREN OF ICE”
“After Germany occupied the region of Klaipeda in 1939, Soviet tanks reached Lithuania in June 1940, and the occupation of the USSR began. On 14 June 1941, about seventeen thousand Lithuanians were deported: intellectuals, teachers, civil servants, and farmers. My young parents were also taken away with their families that day. Their fate led them to grow in one yurt on the icy promontory of the Laptev Sea. It was only in 1998 that the Lithuanian Parliament passed a resolution and a law that legally described Soviet deportations: “the mass deportations from the occupied country to its occupying territory by the occupying state are one of the most serious war crimes.” But at that time, it was even called a “humane action”, a cleansing of the nation, “to suppress the resistance of the exploitative class.”
The idea to create this play arose a long time ago, it matured slowly, gradually learning more and more about exile. My parents’ childhood was spent in the land of the permafrost, they grew up in Siberia by the Laptev Sea but never talked about it because it was dangerous, forbidden and a taboo. They probably did not want their children to live through this experience. It was only after 1991 when publications on the memories of deportees appeared that I learned about my parents’ lives there…
The play was based on my mother’s childhood story about red pom-poms: when their family travelled to Siberia by train, she, then a four-year-old girl, was playing with pom-poms sewn on her dress but suddenly one of them broke off and rolled off the rails. The girl then started to cry terribly – and people calmed her: “let’s go back to Lithuania and find your pom-pom.” And… my mother always believed she would find it when she came back. The red mother’s pom-pom that rolled on the rails is like the whole essence of Lithuania, the fate of many people…
The pain of my grandparents and parents as well as thousands of Lithuanians remained deep, unspoken. I began to think of this performance as a peculiar sacrifice, the experience of the pain hidden inside it. A pain that is still in the memory of the nation and raises fear, horror, an eternal question: what for? And danger, fear: what if history repeats itself tomorrow and tears us away from our land, our home, our history?
It is said that when you relive those memories again, you need to speak out on the most depressing thoughts and it becomes easier as there is no more fear and no horror left in you. Therefore, I want to talk about it out loud on the theatre stage to reveal a memory and tell about it for the next generation, so that they know where our nation’s subconscious fears and a lack of confidence comes from. To testify to those who have not experienced that reality, to teach a peculiar lesson through experiencing history again.
I named the play “Children of Ice” because it is not only the story of a mother but also of many boys and girls of that time.”
FROM THE PRESS REVIEWS
“The solo performance “Children of Ice” based on the memories of Birute Mar’s parents, Jurate and Algirdas Marcinkevicus, and other exiles, excerpts from a documentary prose by Dalia Grinkeviciute and the book “Generation from Siberia” by Egle Gudonyte shined a light on a multifaceted talent of the actress. One person was able to talk to the whole orchestra: playwrights, actresses, directors, musicians. And even flexible dancers, if we remember how gracefully the girl wore Siberian felts. During the dialogues in the performance, Birute Mar very naturally embodied the roles of a teacher, mother, daughter, other girls in a mocking manner, selectively creating the characters of a Soviet soldier, a watchman “nadziratel”, a sinister Russian woman and a good Yakut.”
Mindaugas Klusas “Birutė Mar’s Orchestra” (Lietuvos zinios/Lithuanian News, 13/01/2015)
“Birute displays the documentary precision of the events through the prism of a child’s perception, which helps create her calm, joyful, and at times even detached tone that penetrates deep into the audience’s soul. Despite all the tragedy, Birute masterfully weaves irony and humor into the fabric of the narrative. Here, the little girl is at a holiday celebration where she passionately reads out loud a poem about the happy childhood they owe to Stalin and praises his virtues, while scratching her head, catching and tossing away lice… Can there be a more emphatic gesture to convey the absurdity and the unnaturalness of such a life!?”
Antonina Mikhaltsova “Siberia’s Lithuanian Children” (ITI-INFO (MIT-INFO) MAGAZINE, Moscow, Russia, Nr. 1, 2018)
Laima Vince, Lithuanian – American writer “Children of Ice: a solo performance of Birutė Mar” (www.laimavince.com 2022.02)
Nomination in the Golden Stage Cross of the Year dedicated to Lithuanian theatre artists for the Best National Dramaturgy Production, 2016
1st Degree Honour of the Lithuanian Political Prisoners and Exiles in recognition of merits to Lithuania for the production of solo performance “ICE CHILDREN” as well as history nurturance of exile, resistance, and cultural activity, 2016
Lithuanian Oak Award for “the honest depiction and promotion of exile and the history of freedom fighters in Lithuania and in the world”, 2017
INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS, TOURS
XIII International Theatre Festival “Sezon Stanislavskovo” (Stanislavsky’s season”), Moscow, Russia, 2017
International Women Theatre Festival “Maria”, dedicated to Ukrainian actress M.Zankovetska, Kiev, Ukraine, 2018
Festival of Lithuanian Dramaturgy “Atgaiva”, Siauliai, Lithuania, 2018