Adam Mickiewicz’s "Forefather’s Eve" in the Theatres of Vilnius During the First Half of the 20th Century

Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis




Forefather’s Eve, Adam Mickiewicz, Vilnius, Andrzej Pronaszko


The paper discusses the tradition of the stage interpretations of Adam Mickiewicz’s poem Forefather’s Eve [Liryki lozańskie] that became established in Vilnius during the first half of the 20th century. The paper focuses on visual forms of production, and acknowledges the input of set designers who rendered this literary masterpiece and its poetic visions. During the period until the WWII, the play was produced six times, and the artistic forms of these productions changed according to the cultural situation of the times. However most of these productions were focused on recitations of the poem, develop- ment of the art of acting, and communication of the poet‘s philosophical ideas to the audience. Meanwhile other aspects of these productions, such as stage design and costumes, were mostly overlooked and rarely mentioned in critical reviews. In the context of all its productions, the last one presents the greatest interest because it was directed by the famous Polish theatre director Leon Schiller, and the stage design was created by the prominent Polish visual artist Andrzej Pronaszko. Before the premiere in Vilnius, this artistic tandem showed their production of Forefather’s Eve in Lvov (Ukraine), Warsaw (Poland) and Sofia (Bulgaria). Together with the photographs from the shows in Lvov and Warsaw, Pronaszko’s set design projects are now part of the collection in the Lithuanian National Museum of Art, and they allow us to better understand the concept of their production which was based on generalised artistic forms and their use of laconic symbolism. According to the artist‘s statements written decades after these premieres, the set designer took an active part in the creation of plastic forms and their meanings. However, the contemporaries of this production of Forefather’s Eve did not fully appreciate the artist‘s modern approach – their feedback was mostly based on stereotypes that dominated the reception of Mickiewicz‘s poetry in general and Forefather’s Eve in particular.

Author Biography

Helmutas Šabasevičius, Vilnius Academy of Arts, Vilnius, Lithuania

Helmutas Šabasevičius graduated from the Lithuanian State Institute of Art (curr. Vilnius Academy of Arts) in 1989, and defended his doctoral thesis in 1993. Since 1994 he has been a lecturer in Vilnius Academy of Arts. He is also a senior researcher in the Department of the History of Music and Theatre in the Lithuanian Culture Research Institute. His research topics include: the history of Lithuanian art, stage design and choreography, visual culture of the 19th century, interconnections between theatre and visual arts. Šabasevičius has before discussed these topics in numerous academic and non-academic papers and conference talks. In 2017, Šabasevičius was awarded the Lithuanian State Prize for Outstanding Achievements in Culture and Art, and in 2019, the Golden Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland for the development of cultural ties between Poland and Lithuania.



How to Cite

Šabasevičius, H. (2020). Adam Mickiewicz’s "Forefather’s Eve" in the Theatres of Vilnius During the First Half of the 20th Century: Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, (98), 308–325.