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The Other Side of the Curtain
Directed by Patrick Reed and Laurence Green

  • DPs
  • Soviet Union
  • Iron Curtain
  • Aukuras (Eternal Flame)
  • Domestic Contract


  • The importance of a mother tongue
  • The human longing for political freedom
  • The struggle and courage of refugees, especially the DPs


  1. Why did Elena Kudaba leave her homeland, Lithuania and refuse to return?
  2. What were Displaced Person Camps? Who were the Dps?
  3. Where and when did Elena meet her future husband?
  4. How were Displaced Persons initially treated by Canadians?
  5. When and where was Aukuras established?
  6. What does Aukuras mean? Why do you think Elena chose this name?
  7. What did Aukuras accomplish?
  8. What is the value of ethnic-language amateur theatre?


  • To understand the role of art in peoples' lives, especially immigrants
  • To understand that 'success' comes in many forms
  • To consider what life is like for an exile


1) There are many ways to measure success. Elena was on her way to becoming a star of Lithuanian National Theatre when the Second World War forced her into exile. After coming to Hamilton, she devoted over 50 years to running an 'amateur' theatre troupe, staging plays in church basements, far from the grand theatres of Europe. Few people outside the Lithuanian-Canadian community recognize her accomplishments, yet she is a star, a success.

Make a list of 10 famous celebrities from the worlds of sports, film, politics, human rights, environmental activism, medicine, etc. Write two or three sentences about why these people are, or are not, a success. Then make a list of 10 people you know or have heard of who aren't famous. Describe why they are, are aren't successful. Using these lists along with photographs and graphics, make a poster that explains the difference between real success and celebrity.

2) Elena has said "Every one of our poets could be translated and not embarrass us. I read your Shakespeare - read our Kreve! I read Shelley ? read our Maironis." Read some poetry, a play, or a novel translated from Lithuanian, and write a 3 page book report on your impressions.

3) Protecting and teaching the Lithuanian language to second and third generation Lithuanian-Canadians is as essential to Elena's life as it is to other Canadians. Create a multi-language newscast in your class. Enlist classmates who attend Heritage Language classes or who speak a second language to be the news announcers and to translate the 3 news stories everyone will announce. Everyone else in the class can help by researching and writing the news stories, creating a large TV screen by cutting out the bottom of a big box, being floor directors and make?up artists.

4) Imagine that, like Elena, you are forced to become a refugee from your own country. Right a three page letter to your friends and family, telling them what you will miss about your life here, and your feelings about never being able to return. Then make a two page list of the ten items you can take in your small knapsack, and why they are be important to you.

5) Elena expresses concern that Lithuania is a small country, easily subsumed by global culture. From Czarist Russia through Soviet days, Lithuania was under foreign domination. In an attempt to destroy the spirit of the people and to assimilate them, the Lithuanian language was often suppressed.

Research and write a 500 word essay on the role of governments around the world to suppress the languages and cultures of minority groups they wish to control. Consider past and present government policies such as: Australia's treatment of Aboriginals; Iraq's persecution of Kurds; Russia's pogroms against the Jews; Canada's treatment of Natives in Residential schools; America's discriminatory policies against African Americans;
England's imposition of the Penal Laws against Catholics in Ireland; Iran's mistreatment of its Shi'ite Moslem minority; India's practices against Sikhs.

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