Last summer, I spent a week in Kaunas contributing to a community art summer school organised by Ed Carrol and Vita Gelūnienė for the Upper Šančia Community Association. We worked on a community opera, based on a libretto that had been developed a few weeks earlier in separate writing workshops. The work—music, dance, singing and design—continued during the autumn, and the work took better shape. Between Christmas and New Year, a version of the opera was performed on the old Cabbage Field that is the focus of the the community’s engagement. Ed and Vita have just shared this short video of highlights. As you watch it, it’s worth remembering that this is an independent project, happening without external support or funding, simply because making this work is important to the people involved.
The four principal characters, Antanas, Gelelis, Rosalia and Frane represent aspects of the district’s past at a time of political and social change. Here are a few photos by Darius Petrulis that I’ve just been sent: there are more in this news article. In her email, Vita says that the ‘weather was miserable, the performance – magnificent‘. It would have been wonderful to be there, but knowing that it happened is enough. All over Europe, all over the world, people make community art in celebration and common purpose. Their work is a source of hope for many, and sharing these images seems a good way to wish readers a happy, peaceful and creative new year.