© Dmitrij Matvejev

After J. M. Coetzee novel Waiting for the Barbarians


State Youth Theatre


DIRECTOR: Árpád Schilling
COMPOSER: Martynas Bialobžeskis
LIGHT DESIGNER: Eugenijus Sabaliauskas
TRANSLATOR: Asta Paulauskytė

CAST: Valentinas Masalskis, Viktorija Kuodytė, Gediminas Storpirštis, Martynas Berulis, Aleksas Kazanavičius, Jovita Jankelaitytė, Ina Kartašova, Saulius Sipaitis, Janina Matekonytė, Vytautas Taukinaitis, Kristina Andrejauskaitė, Ieva Kaniušaitė, Dovilė Šilkaitytė, Aušra Pukelytė, Sergejus Ivanovas, Neringa Varnelytė, Dalia Morozovaitė, Giedrė Giedraitytė, Lukas Petrauskas, Ignas Ciplijauskas, Karolis Kasperavičius, Matas Dirginčius, Matas Sigliukas


PREMIERE: 25,26 February 2023
DURATION: 210 min


DATE: 20 September | 18:30
VENUE: State Youth Theatre

LANGUAGE: Lithuanian with English subtitles

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In the novel “Waiting for the Barbarians”, published in 1980 (in Lithuanian first published by “Baltos lankos” in 2013, and later again in 2021 – translated by Violeta Tauragienė), the story is narrated in the first person by the unnamed Magistrate of an anonymous Empire. The ageing man is seeking a quiet life away from Empire’s politics. He serves justice in a small frontier settlement on the land, taken away from peaceful indigenous nomads, and in his spare time fulfils his secret passions for women and archeological studies.

One day he is presented with a case against two “barbarians” – a father and his underaged daughter – captured by soldiers. The father is killed by soldiers in front of his daughter, while she is horribly tortured. This really throws the Magistrate off his usual track. Pity for the crippled girl transforms into paternal care, awakening feelings he has long forgotten. The Magistrate decides to bring the girl back to her people. He brings the fury and horrendous revenge of the faithful servants of the Empire upon himself because of this trip. The Magistrate becomes a beggar, fighting for his life and for a piece of bread. Finally, he witnesses the fall of the Empire, when army, sent into the wild to fight the “barbarians” doesn’t return and the town is abandoned…

It’s as if the novel is trying the boundaries of humanity and raises the question of who are the real barbarians: ruthlessly persecuted and tortured local nomads from the wild, farmers, fishermen and craftsmen or townspeople and militia, protecting the Empire and indifferent to their suffering?

Árpád Schilling believes that “in “Waiting for the Barbarians”, as in many of his other works, J. M. Coetzee primarily writes about his own experience in the Republic of South Africa, about Western empire of white people and its relationship with local black citizens, about colonial politics of the Western world in the Middle East, South America or Northern Africa. Today the war against the “barbarians” is led by the Eastern empire, today they are bombing houses and killing people. Although, it doesn’t matter whether we talk about West or East – every front line has its own frontier settlement, where ordinary God-fearing people live their ordinary lives, hoping that atrocities of war will somehow spare them, because they are honest impartial people. But nobody is impartial. Except maybe children. The town itself, townspeople are in the thick of action, when the conflict between the bloodthirsty Empire, seeking to conquer the barbarians, and an individual, resisting its cruelty – a typical intellectual.

And who are the barbarians? I have two hypotheses: either they don’t exist at all and this conflict is some sad ironic joke, or we all are barbarians, since we are all people.”


Lithuanian audience is very well familiar with works of Árpád Schilling. In the past two decades numerous performances of the Budapest theatre Krétakör, led by the director, earned the admiration of Lithuanian theatre goers. Árpád Schilling has also staged critically-acclaimed performances in the State Youth Theatre, Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, and Klaipėda Youth Theatre.

Schilling started directing when he was twenty years old and by 1995 established his own theatre Krétakör. Remembering the German theatre reformer Bertolt Brecht, the name Krétakör, meaning “chalk circle”, has captured the essence of his philosophy – one can connect theatre and the audience by enclosing them in a chalk circle, that can be drawn anywhere and in case it gets erased, it can be drawn anew right away. In more than a decade Krétakör has travelled the world and gained international recognition. Particularly successful Schilling’s productions “Wojtek”, “BLACKland” and “The Seagull” have gained him the title of one of the most original European Youth Theatre artists.