Family Stories

Giving a speech on the occasion of the delivery of the Ernst Toller’s award in 1999, the first words of Biljana Srbljanović were: “let me introduce: I am a person without identity. The only thing I can affirm without any doubts is that I am a mature woman living in Europe at the crossroad of the centuries. All the resting things are flue, indefinite and vague in my life. This “person without identity”, who also is a Serbian artist and an important public figure, became famous in the whole Europe not only for her plays which are staged with a great success but also for the charm of her personality, her behaviour renouncing compromises and a sincere care of the social problems. “Every contemporary society needs such persons as the remedy able to cure the fear and futility of the mass culture”- confirm the Serbs who had ranged this playwright among ten of the most popular Serbian persons several years ago. Her plays, “Trilogy of Belgrad”, “Family stories”, “The Autumn”, “Supermarket”, have been translated to more than 20 languages and staged in more than 80 theatres round the world.

B. Srbljanovic, who witnessed the horrible events in the Balkans Peninsula, composed a play, which has shaken the whole Europe by the open representation of cruelty although it was dressed in the insouciant clothes of the children’s game. Four children living in the neighbourhood are playing “home” and their game is like the mirror, which reflects the surrounding world. The real world appears to be exaggerated by the consciousness of the children’s mind though without being embellished neither sweetened. With an incredible accurateness and seriousness the children create their own micro-world in order to give evidence for the crimes of the powerfuls of our world

Most of the stage directors who have staged “Family stories” referred to tragic-farce or grotesque in their interpretations not avoiding to introduce terrifying naturalistic details in which the play is abundant. The aim of stage director Rimas Tuminas seems, on the contrary, to prove that the theatre based on the rules of the game and improvisations is able to witness the reality as assuredly as the drastic and aggressive theatricality does.

According to the words of Rimas Tuminas, he and the actresses tried to experiment with the limits between the games and reality, between the laugh and horror. For the actresses Valda Bičkutė, Vaida Būtytė, Ilona Kvietkutė, Gintarė Latvėnaitė and Ineta Stasiulytė, the contact with the play turned into a real workshop of mastery and director Rimas Tuminas treated it as an interesting adventure in his career of stage director while trying to discover the contemporary dramaturgy.

This performance should make us to forget all our deliriums about the miraculous world of the children’s games and about the omnipotent imagination, which is able to transfer us to the reality of tales as well. We should forget all those stories we create about the particular and exclusive cruelty of children. In the play the cruelty appears to be so professional that obviously the adults should be addressed with thank-you words. They should be thanked for the variety of ways to kill own parents too.

7 meno dienos

Rimas Tuminas together with his actresses managed to find the way to make this feverish text closer to the theatrical aesthetics specific to Tuminas as well as to highlight the essential and universal things without simplifying or vulgarizing them. The performance is not abundant in the Balkan exotics, what is typical of the performances realized by directors from the safe Occidental Europe and who often treat the Balkan exotics from the bourgeois point of view. In the Lithuanian version the Balkan melody appears only at the moment when the child continuing to play is mourning for his parents killed just a moment ago. This melody plays a role the sign.

Literatūra ir menas

In “Family stories” the children’s insouciance and the cruelty of reality are fused together so inseparably that it is quite impossible to say whether the children are playing with catastrophes or the catastrophes are playing with the destinies of the children.

Lietuvos rytas

The actresses began to create the performance by themselves; director intervened later adding to their work his singular touch. They had a great desire to play, did not spare their energy. They found the theme actual and interesting.

No doubts that being based on the principles of the game the Lithuanian interpretation of the play sounds differently from the performances realized by the ex-Yugoslavians. Though the laugh becomes absurd the toys appear disemboweled, wrenched, gibbeted, there is nobody who would be loved by some of the girls. The child takes here a part of the master because he needs to become stronger and he must act in the manner his parents offer him.

Verslo žinios

With the lugubrious themes of the confusion of the postwar period and death, R. Tuminas managed to create a performance evoking a shock effect at the same time being so joyful, venturesome, and abundant in vivacity, improvisations and spectacular interacts. The play, which suggested the realization of the “black comedy”, turned in the hands of Tuminas into the comedy with venturesome games, the real show of the women.