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My journey with Out of Darkness began in 2007. After 20 years working as a theatre lighting designer I was looking for a new challenge and embarked on a degree in drawing. I had a long term plan to tell my parents‘ story and so as one of my projects I decided to make a drawing of ‘the box’ together with my mother. I had heard stories of ‘the box’ all my life, and I knew that it was in this box that the essence of my family had been founded. Yet while I had clear insight into the emotional significance, I had never been certain of the physical reality. My childhood imagination had made it the size of a toy box, my adult imaginings conjured up a cramped apartment; I had little sense of which was closer to the truth.

My Mum was intrigued by the idea and up for the challenge. Over the course of several weeks, I made drawings, we had conversations, she made corrections; but it still somehow remained tantalisingly out of reach. I moved from drawings to scale models, but although I was literate in imagining objects at scale, to her it was a foreign
language; and while she was fluent in at least nine spoken languages, the language of the scale model was not one of them. And so finally, with her guidance, I built the box for real.

After she died in 2011 I found my father’s written description of the box. Despite our forensic reconstruction, his dimensions were not the same, and so these multiple versions of the box became the root of Out of Darkness – a work not of history, but a piecing together of memory. Even the ‘timelines’ make no claim to historical accuracy are but are my attempt to work out the connections and knit together the scraps of story into the wider context.

The words in the show and accompanying book are all mine, with the exception of the letters from my Father. The stories are theirs. My Mum always wanted to find a format to tell her story that was not a simple linear narrative. Having not found the language in her lifetime she left me a legacy of hope and the materials to make the story out live her. She would never have imagined that the story would have come home to Kaunas, but I know she would be delighted that the story had found its place here, and the circle was somehow completed.

Jenny Kagan
August 2022