1972, Romas Kalanta

(Saulius Eduardas Pauliukonis, actor of Šiauliai Drama Theatre, former actor of Kaunas Pantomime troupe, who worked in Kaunas Drama Theatre with director J. Jurašas and in Kaunas Musical Theatre).

There was this performance happening [in our theatre], but I was not acting in it, just playing the music. And during the performance, I heard the director shouting on the loudspeaker: “Saulius, Saulius, there is a person on fire in the square.” “What person? Who? Where?” I ran out of the theatre, leaving all this music behind and looked at a person running around on fire. And there was this another person running behind him with a fire extinguisher. Someone later took the extinguisher from him, because someone started telling that foam is dangerous for the person on fire. Other people tried to put the fire out with their jackets and coats. They could not. Their own jackets caught fire. He died there, burned down completely. When he was taken, he was still whispering. He said: "Mother...”  I saw his lips moving. But he looked like from a horror movie. I saw it with my own eyes. Next day, it was very difficult to get to the theatre...

After self-immolation of Romas Kalanta, our troupe was closed down. Young people came to our performances. There was almost an accusation flowing around that Romas Kalanta self-immolated himself and the riot started because pantomime artists probably educated the youth of Kaunas in a bad way. There were various pretexts. The director was blamed the most. Later there was a closed meeting of local Komsomol officials, where our entire troupe was invited to, so they could shame us. They told us that we needed to be disbanded, etc. And we made a very big mistake. We wrote a statement that we cannot be pressured and that we were not appreciated enough (we mentioned how much money we brought to the musical theatre, how many tours we had, how many shows we put on and how everyone loves and respects us), so if we could not work at the musical theatre, we would leave. And the minister said: “Humph. So, leave.” And he signed it. I was the only one who stayed, because I was very “ideological”, just after the Soviet Army... (2013)