Modris Tenisons' Pantomime Team collection
The collection shows the activities of Modris Tenisons’ troupe. In 1966, Modris Tenisons founded the first mime troupe in the Soviet Union. It was made a separate section of the Kaunas National Drama Theatre in 1967. Later, in 1970, it moved to Kaunas Musical Theatre. The troupe was well known for its performances, as well as for creating and living in the Hippie community in Kaunas. After the self-immolation of Romas Kalanta in Kaunas in 1972, and the youth protests against the Soviet regime, Modris Tenisons and his troupe were forced to leave Kaunas Musical Theatre and end their creative work.
Vilnius O. Milašiaus gatvė 19, Lithuania 10102
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Name of collection
- Modris Tenisons' Pantomime Team collection
Provenance and cultural activities
Modris Tenisons founded the first mime troupe in the Soviet Union. In 1967, it became a separate section at the Kaunas National Drama Theatre. It was invited by the theatre director Jonas Jurašas to participate in Mamutų medžioklė (The Mammoth Hunt, 1968). The production was greeted with great enthusiasm by audiences, and was supported by cultural administrators. The documents in the collection show that the leaders of the theatre and the actors were thanked, and received a bonus for their successful performance in the show. But later, especially because of the events in Prague, the attitude of the cultural establishment towards the work of the troupe became very critical. The production was removed from the theatre’s repertoire. Despite that, the mime troupe continued performing, gaining recognition in cultural circles. As is seen from the documents, it received many invitations to perform in other theatres in the USSR, and in foreign countries. In 1970, the troupe moved to Kaunas Musical Theatre, where it was also successful.
The situation changed in 1972, after the self-immolation of Romas Kalanta in Kaunas and protests by youths against the Soviet regime. In reaction to these events, the regime started to persecute artists and cultural workers whom it saw as being responsible for the ideological situation in the city. The regime connected Modris Tenisons and his troupe with these events, seeing them as responsible for the ideological climate in Kaunas. Not only the creative work of the members of the troupe, but also their way of life, was treated as being outside Soviet norms. The actors were known for their Hippie way of life. In 1972, Modris Tenisons and his team were forced to leave Kaunas Musical Theatre and end their creative work.
Unfortunately, Lithuanian society today is very ill-informed about the activities and work of Modris Tenisons' troupe. According to Dr Edvardas Klivis, a researcher into theatre art and history at Vytautas Magnus University, mime is not considered one of the classic arts. Some critics see it as a marginalised form of art. We can envisage other reasons for society’s limited knowledge of the troupe. The year 1972 was a year of youth protests in Kaunas that showed clearly society’s discontent with Soviet nationality policy. Modris Tenisons and the work of his troupe were not limited to nationalist protests; they searched for new forms of art.
Description of content
There is no single collection of the Modris Tenisons troupe. It is made up of several kinds of material stored in different places. The Lithuanian Archives of Literature and Art hold the files of the Kaunas National Drama Theatre and Kaunas Musical Theatre. This material shows how the troupe was established, what kind of productions it put on, its tours, and why it was dissolved.
The second part of the collection is held in the private papers of Edgaras Klivis. He is a scholar who is researching Modris Tenisons’ troupe. Modris Tenisons gave Klivis many drafts, manuscripts and photographs. This part of the collection is still not formalised, and does not have an inventory. Klivis expects that he will later transfer this material to the Vytautas Magnus University archive.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 10-99
- photos: 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Vilnius, Oskaro Milašiaus gatvė 19, Lithuania
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- parts are closed to the public
- No publications
Author(s) of this page
Pliopa, Adas , interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, June 14, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Jurašas, Jonas, interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, June 16, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Tenisons, Modris , interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, December 06, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Klivis, Edgaras , interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, May 31, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection