Jaunā Gaita nr. 148, (2) 1984

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JG 148

Continuing a JG tradition in this issue we present the first half of the full text of poet Māra Zālīte's first play, Pilna Māras istabiņa ("Māra's Room Is Full"), which was staged for the first time in Rīga in 1983. The style of the play is deeply symbolic and mythological, carrying many-layered associations to Latvian folklore, literature, and history. The author uses symbolism and an almost ritualistic, folkloristic style to convey her powerful meaning subliminally as well as overtly. The set designer, Ilmārs Blumbergs, has three of his sketches for the play in this issue.

Four articles in this issue also deal with the theatre. Baņuta Rubesa looks at the newest developments in Latvian exile theatre, while she herself is observed by Ņina Luce in a short review of Rubesa's presentation at the 1983 Latvian Festival in Australia. Ņ. Luce reviews the Sydney Latvian Theatre's production of Anšlavs Eglītis' unusual play Leo. Viktors Hausmanis contributes a report on the theatrical life of Latvia during the 1982-83 season. He feels that the great popularity of the theatre and actors in Latvia is due to the relevance of the theatre to the lives and concerns of Latvians, but that this popularity has the danger of leading to complacency and lack of experimentation. Juris Rozītis concludes his essay on the future role of Latvian cultural life with a summary of its functions for the exile Latvian community: to bring Latvians together in a Latvian context, to provide a milieu for positive emotional expression and catharsis, to introduce Latvian cultural achievements to the world, to educate ourselves, in order to see our problems in terms of the situation of the world in the late twentieth century, and finally, to broaden our cultural horizons in all directions.

Several anniversaries are marked in this issue. Mudīte Austriņa contributes a moving personal memoir of her father's, poet Antons Austriņš' last year of life in Rīga during 1933, when he was dying of kidney disease, to mark the centenary of his birth in 1883. Imants Sakss looks at the life and work of composer and critic Jānis Zālītis (1883-1943) and points out that, while Zālītis is belatedly getting recognition for his contribution to Latvian music in Latvia, he is being neglected outside Latvia, although, in Sakss' opinion. Zālītis was the first to bring the music of the twentieth century to Latvia. Jānis Kēniņš has a short article on the work of philosopher Teodors Celms, the most distinguished student of Husserl's phenomenology, on the occasion of Celms' 90th birthday.

Playwright and actor Uldis Siliņš (of the Sydney Latvian Theatre) contributes his memoir of the late JG theatre editor Spodris Klauverts. Siliņš recounts several incidents that help to explain why, in spite of his irreplaceable contribution to the Latvian cultural life of Australia, Klauverts made enemies who were able to label him a Communist sympathizer without any factual basis for this label, and thus alienated a large segment of Australia's Latvian community from him.

Laimonis Mieriņš appears frequently in the pages of JG as a contributor of arts reviews and annual synopses of the visual arts in Latvia. Mieriņš himself is an artist worthy of note, and Nikolajs Bulmanis has devoted an essay to his work. The two main themes of Mieriņš' work have been the chevron in his painting, and drawings of the female nude. Several of Mieriņš' works have been reproduced with the essay. Bulmanis' regular art column contains an obituary of the iconoclastic art impresario Valdis Āboliņš (1939-1984). Āboliņš was personally known for his well-defended leftist political views and his flamboyant appearance, while the exhibits he organized were governed by one criterion only: quality. Āboliņš also organized Maija Tabaka's first exhibition in West Berlin.

Andris Kārkliņš, better known as flamenco guitarist Andres el Leton, has now visited Rīga twice and his concerts there have been very well-received. JG presents an interview with Kārkliņš about his most recent visit. It is difficult to do justice to Kārkliņš, both as a musician and as a person, in this small space, but his irrepressible warmth and optimism shine through the interview, even though some of his opinions may raise as many eyebrows in Rīga as among conservative exile Latvians.

Two of our editors who regularly upset conservative Latvians, Andrievs Ezergailis and Tālivaldis Ķiķauka, again contribute their thoughts to this issue. Ezergailis deplores the misinterpretation and falsification of Latvian history by all elements of the Latvian political spectrum, while Ķiķauka regrets the increasing polarization of the Latvian exile community into "left" and "right", young and old. He calls upon Latvians to develop new standards of toleration and trust before we shut each other out of existence completely.

Our series on the future of nationalism continues with Freds Z. Launags' rebuttal of J. Purviņš Jurjāns' views, which began the series in JG 145, while our editor Laimonis Zandbergs contributes a brief look at two Latvian athletes, Jānis Dāliņš and Jānis Dimza, who participated in the 1932 Olympiad in Los Angeles. Those twenty Latvians who hoped to participate in the 1984 Olympics will have to remain at home this year, because the Olympics have become just another weapon in the international political jousting arena.

The cover is by Voldemārs Avens, and there are two cartoons one by Māris Bišofs and the other one by Ansis Reinhards.


Ilze Valdmanis

Jaunā Gaita