Duration 3 hours with an interval
Age Suitability 13+Premiere November 29, 2017
In 2017 November, an extraordinary premiere was held at the State Youth Theatre in Vilnius. Director Eimuntas Nekrošius returned to the theatre where he began his creative career 26 years earlier with a new performance, to speak of the events that took place in the Soviet Union three decades ago. Based on two novels by Belarusian writer and Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, Zinc looks back at the era that remained at the periphery of public interest for a long time, but which hides the causes and explanations of many contemporary problems. Like in many of his previous works based on seminal literary works, Nekrošius once again invites the viewer to take a closer look at the past from today’s point of view.
At 01:23 am on April 26, 1986, a series of explosions destroyed the Unit 4 reactor and building at the Soviet Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant located near the Belarus–Ukraine border. Because of the Chernobyl disaster, Alexievich’s native Belarus lost 485 villages and settlements. Today, every fifth Belarusian lives in a contaminated area: that is 2.1 million people, of which 700 thousand are children.
In early 1989, the Soviet military left Afghanistan after a ten-year war, which killed tens of thousands of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians. The state that survived the Chernobyl disaster and the war in Afghanistan did not only try to hide from its population the statistics of both tragedies, but also its own agony.
Alexievich's book Boys in Zinc is based on the memoirs of the friends, wives and mothers of soldiers who served in the Soviet army and took part in the military operation in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.
Nekrošius’s theatre is trying to "catch the era by its tail". The story follows a female author (played by Aldona Bendoriūtė), who travels through time and the Soviet country and keeps a travel diary.
Zinc coffins that carried the bodies of dead soldiers from Afghanistan back to their homeland become the symbol of the looming end of the era. The chemical element zinc, essential for human life, during the war became the marker of death. The beginning and the end of life fit into the shortest chemical formula: Zn.
Zinc is one of the last performances staged by Eimuntas Nekrošius in Lithuania.