Concept for the Theatrical Excursions
One of the Curonian Spit's problems is a very short season. For several decades we have tried to extend it. The theatrical excursion was created as an experimental product, which was previously shown during the summer.
This product for the city guests tells the stories about the history of the WHS and its OUV. The main idea of this product is off-season clothes for the theatrical excursion.
Since the product was created, theatrical excursions have been shown during spring and fall allowing visitors to visit the region and extend the peek season.
The theatrical excursion "Nida in 1924" helps to solve seasonality problems, meet the needs of tourists who are interested in UNESCO WHS history and the needs of WHS managers to represent OUV of the Curonian Spit.
At the same it inspires local inhabitants to actively participate in the preservation of intangible cultural heritage and increases their self-esteem and pride in the area. The theatrical excursion was created as an experimental pilot product in 2017. This product for the city guests tells the stories about the history of this WHS and its OUV.
Off season visitors miss the high quality tourism products. Therefore this kind of product attracts more visitors off season and gives local inhabitants the possibility to have additional incomes.
Traditional guiding tours and lectures for tourists are not always attractive. Theatrical excursions where the main actors are local people is interesting for visitors and helps WHS managers to disseminate targeted information in a more effective way.
Through their participation in the theatrical excursions local inhabitants better understand local history, the values of the site and gain more self-esteem.
The product development took a few years. The history of the Curonian Spit is extremely rich and unique, so the idea was to make a theatrical excursion in which local inhabitants play the true characters of the 1920s. CSNPA organized the group of local inhabitants that actively would like to participate in the popularization of the Curonian Spit history.
The basis for the theatrical excursion was the chronology of the Nida School collected by Nida's schoolteacher Henry Fuchs, the history of Nida art colony and articles in local newspapers. Thanks to the famous personalities of the time (1923-1939), Nida is so beautiful and attractive that it receives enormous international attention. Looking at the history of Nida, it can be seen, that one time Nida survived its "golden age".
The first theatrical excursion was organized in 2017 in August in cooperation with local people and King Mindaugas Youth training center.
Actors of the tour are local people working on a variety of jobs - electrical network specialist, preschool teacher, CSNPA employees, employees of the Neringa Museum, pre-school and school teacher, hotel administrator, taxi driver, etc.
Local artist Evaldas Šemetulskis shares an ancient easel and painted painting. The artists of the Cultural Center Agila made a stand where we showed national costumes. Photos were also taken, so that people involved had an understanding of the national costumes.
Some suits were lent by the Nida Cultural Center, the biggest part were made by King Mindaugas Youth training center. The entire theatrical excursion tour has 14 characters. When we started to show the tour, it became clear that costumes are very important, they must accurately reflect the spirit of that period.
The period after the First World War is unique in art, music and especially in the fashion world. The fashion changed dramatically - the silhouette was less fitted, the length of the garments was shortened and the intricate decorations were subdued. But elegance and glamour were a necessity.
The fashion of 1922 -1928 can be identified very easily from straight, unbleached dresses and costumes. Men's trousers were wide, jackets were double-breasted. Examples of such costumes can be found in old fashion magazines, but they are not available on the market, so they have to be handmade.
We had a lot of summer clothes, but needed warmer coats worn by these characters: Mrs. Fuchs, Mrs. Molenhauer, Ursula and Paula vacationers from Berlin, artist Fritz Niethammer, and journalist Petras Babickas from Kaunas.
The new costumes for the excursion allows visitors to visit the region during off-season. Through the local inhabitants' participation in the theatrical excursions they better understand local history, the values of the site and gain more self-esteem. At the end of the season, a museum of history is visited (this is part of the tour) as well.
The product fully corresponds to the concept of sustainable tourism and encourages responsible behaviour in nature as the characters speak about it during the tour.
From June to September 2018 8 excursions were organized. Three of them were shown to the guests of the city and participants of the folklore festival due to the request of the Neringa municipality. We made a poster and distributed information through social networks and websites.
The results are great. Since the tour contains serious, profound conversations, and funny stories, people are finding the tour interesting and valuable. The music teacher of Neringa Gymnasium plays the charming woman Frau Pugel, who sings the ancient song, accompanied by the sounds of the harpoon of Klaipėda. This moment is very exciting for everyone.
During the tour, "the conflicts" between the Lithuanians and the Germans are constantly shown, between the traditional fishermen and the businessmen, holiday makers and Lithuania and Berlin. All actors are locals, so they are also very enthusiastic about this product. So far, the feedback from visitors is only positive.
The cost for the off-season costumes was 2 000 euros.
Experience has shown that during the peak season of the bathing season excursions are not very popular, for two reasons: it is very difficult to collect artists (because of their work), and it is more important for visitors to be by the sea, when it is warm outside.
The biggest challenge was that not all the local inhabitants were available at the same time to act in the theatrical excursions. This problem was solved by having each character played by several people so they could alternate.
During the first and last excursions that were organized in spring and autumn we realized that in order to offer high quality products it is very important to have costumes that really represent Nida in 1923 and are as close to reality as they can be.
Relevance to Other Sites
Any area with interesting history can benefit from this example. The main thing is to select a very relevant time period and try to "restore conversations" of that time and play "famous stories". This is a great method for educating curious visitors.
The Theatrical Excursions and the Global Goals
The Theatrical Excursions have contributed to the Global Goals target 11.4 Protect the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage.