Lithuanian Amateur Theatre has old and rich traditions, the origins of which go back to the 16th century. Today it is an important element of national culture of our country. At the present time there are approximately 2000 non-professional theatre groups of various artistic styles and genres including adult and children amateur theatres, satyr and humour groups poetry theatres as well as cart, courtyard, cellar, ethnographic, senior, school theatres and barn theatres troupes. The wide scale of theatrical genres and forms in Lithuania could be explained by both the need to express oneself applying theatre means and significant support of government as well.
Cultural activities are co-ordinated by state authority – Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre. The Theatre Department of this Centre is straightly involved in the amateur theatre movement. Since 1975 the main and the only training institution for stage managers, exclusively for amateur theatre, is Klaipeda University. About 300 stage managers for amateur theatre have graduated this University and the majority of the graduates have successful been working with amateur theatre. At the moment there are several non-governmental units (NGO) of theatrical activity such Theatre Historian`s Society, Children Theatre Society, Barn Theatre Society, Free Theatre Association and Lithuanian Amateur Theatre Association.
Only one of these units – Amateur Theatre Association – has appropriate organizational structure and membership. Amateur Theatre Association (LMTS) was established in 1991. In 1993 this Association became a Member of AITA/IATA (www.aitaiata.org) and exists as National Centre. In 1998 LMTS became a member of NEATA Region. LMTS is involved in organizing a national and international theatre events. Approximately 200 local, regional and international theatrical events are organized every year in Lithuania, among which 30 are national and international theatre festivals. All the events gather together more than 50 000 active participants and almost 400 000 audience every year. In 1990 Independence of Lithuania was re-established. Following 1990 there are many changes in amateur theatre movement. Lithuania has hosted international theatre festivals with participants from Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Georgia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, USA, Japan, Sweden, France, Germany, etc. Such international exchanges give us an opportunity to recognize culture and traditions as well as features of amateur theatres activity in our neighbourhood. Therefore, widening of international collaboration is one of the main goals for us.
LMTS is active member of AITA/IATA and the Region of NEATA. The Board of LMTS selecting groups to the World and Regional AITA/IATA festivals, participating in different conferences, seminars, workshops etc. First Regional NEATA festival was held in Lithuania in 2000, and LMTS was an active part of organizing the festival. On National level LMTS together with the Folk Cultural Centre organizing National Amateur Theatre Festivals for adults “Atspindziai”, for children “Simtakojis”, for papet theatres “Molinuko teatras”. Every year organizing the Feast of “Theatre Day”for all amateurs in Lithuania “Tegyvuoja Teatras”, first weekend of June organizing the Summer Theatre Academy for directors and amateur actors.
In 2001 LMTS initiated an International Theatre Directing Course at the Klaipeda University. It is 1 year studies Course for people interested in Theatre Directing. In 5 course were studied 24 students from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Danmark, Faroe Islands, Canada, Slovenia, Georgia, Latvia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Lithuania. (More info on website: www.theatredirecting.ku.lt )