In Sejny, the small town where Poland, Lithuania and Belorus meet, there is acute sensitivity to the global threats arising from a rebirth of old ethnic and religious conflicts. Since 1990, the Borderland Foundation there has promoted multi-cultural education and understanding locally between peoples of different religions, ethnicities, and nationalities. Its major theater project, now of growing acclaim, is Sejny Chronicles, a stunning montage of multicultural life--based on oral histories and legends--which is spoken, sung and danced over a baked clay model of the town.
In the play, the multicultural history of Sejny is revealed through a workshop process called "Ancient Times Memory," which aims to protect the past from oblivion by passing it on to the next generation. It is remarkable because the conservators of these memories were originally teenagers, and their play has already been passed down twice to succeeding generations of Sejny youth.
The performance unfolds around a table on which the baked clay model of pre-war Sejny (designed and executed by the original ensemble) is set. The text is drawn from oral histories by elderly inhabitants of Sejny that were adapted by a youthful ensemble in a series of workshops. The ensemble members sing, act and dance their stories while picking up buildings (various temples, private houses, stores, etc.) and enacting stories "contained" in them which portray the colorful life of the town, including a Lithuanian wedding; a story of a Jewish girl, Rebecca, and her fiancé; church beggars, etc. Although it is performed entirely by young people, the quality of the performance does not allow it to be treated as an amateur spectacle or a "family event." Its stunning artistic quality and deeply moving story make it a most professional performance.