Ethnic Kitchen was born in November 2012, at the annual “16 Days against Gender Violence” campaign when one of the event organizers, the United States Embassy in Vilnius, asked scriptwriter and director Aiste Ptakauske to create a performance piece that would address key gender issues in Lithuania today.
In her project Aiste chose to shine the spotlight on a rarely noticed group of Lithuanian women: migrants. How do they differ from Lithuanian women? How are they similar? What troubles and joys are they experiencing in their adopted homeland? Are these experiences particular only to them or are they common to Lithuanians too? In preparation for the performance, Aiste interviewed over a dozen women from various countries: Estonia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, USA, Ethiopia, Uruguay, and Chechnya, among others.
On 8 of December 2012, seven of the interviewed women gathered at Dalia Tamuleviciute Hall of the State Youth Theatre of Lithuania to share their life stories with the public. The event generated tremendous interest and support.
We didn’t know that there were such interesting people living around us!
We had no clue that such wonderful things were happening in Lithuania.
We saw ourselves and our country through different eyes.
These were the most common exclamations from the audience members. After the performance, the positive reviews spread throughout the country and people from other cities clamoured for repeat performances of Ethnic Kitchen. This enthusiasm showed that Lithuanians often come across as cold and unfriendly not because it is somehow encoded in their nature, but simply because they know very little about foreigners living in Lithuania. But the willingness to know more is definitely there! This realisation gave birth to another idea – to develop Ethnic Kitchen into a documentary feature which could reach all corners of Lithuania.
Excerpts from Ethnic Kitchen at State Youth Theater of Lithuania: