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On 27 March we mark the World Theatre Day. The origin of Vilnius and Lithuanian theatre goes back to 18 October 1570, when Stephano Tucci's comedy "Heracles" was performed in the College Courtyard. Since the establishment of Vilnius University, the Jesuits gave a lot of attention to music and theatre activities – students and professors performed plays and choreographic compositions, while dramatized religious and academic festivities attracted crowds of spectators. The rulers and the nobility would also attend performances as the Jesuits had a reputation for spectacular events.

The first performances took place in the city squares and streets, in the courtyards of the college and academy or in St. John's Church; since the 18th century, the Theatre Hall is often mentioned as a place for performances, as well. Historical sources reveal that stage machinery of the college was bought in Italy; from the 17th century onwards, replaceable theatre decorations came into use. There were many light effects, while fireworks would add some variety to events. Quite often accidents would occur during performances and because of that the Jesuit authorities had repeatedly banned them. The preserved Visitation Memorials of Vilnius Academy and resolutions of the Jesuit superiors show that quite some attention was dedicated to college plays, their organization, decorations, scene machinery, texts of plays. Some texts and college theatres' programs have survived to the present day (link 1link 2).

Naujienos viduje 1

Naujienos viduje 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A large amount of information on theatre performances can be found in the diary of the Vilnius Jesuit College that is kept at Vilnius University Library.

The diary gives an account of the performance that took place on 18 April 1710, when in the evening "fire-throwing actors burned the beard of the prefect and caused various damages to other spectators."

Nijolė Bulotaitė

2021-03-26 

 

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