Jaunā Gaita nr. 166, marts 1988

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JG 166

Much of the content of this issue is devoted to the memory of our long-serving managing editor, Jānis Bieriņš, who died on Nov. 7, 1987. This is the second issue of Jaunā Gaita that has been prepared without his guiding hand in more than 25 years. Since his retirement almost 15 years ago, JG was his full-time occupation. He brought to JG his love of the Latvian language, an intense sense of responsibility towards its printed form, and a conviction that our duty in exile is to continue the tradition of freedom of expression, in the absence of political pressure, that characterized Latvia's democratic period. We miss him greatly.

Shortly before he died, Bieriņš began work­ing on his memoirs. We are printing excerpts, covering his childhood, youth, and adult­hood up to the time he left Latvia in the fall of 1944, in this issue. Velta Toma, Aina Zemdega, Valdis Dzilna, Astrīde Ivaska, and Aina Kraujiete have contributed memo­rial poems, while Imants Sakss discusses a typical weekly programme of Latvian Radio from May, 1940, during the time that Bieriņš worked there.

Our second major theme in this issue is the theatre, both in Latvia and abroad. Alfreds Straumanis, a professor of drama at Southern Illinois University and editor of several large volumes of Baltic drama in English translation, contributes his first-hand observations of the 1986/87 theatrical season in Rīga. His most telling comment may be: "I felt as if I had returned to the National Awakening of the last century." Straumanis is organizing a tour of the production of Dullais Dauka by director Kārlis Auškāps, in the USA in October, 1988.


P. Liepiņš as Dullais Dauka

We have 2 contrasting reviews of Baņuta Rubess' Tango Lugano, produced at Sherbrooke, Quebec, in 1987. The piece is a musical satire on the pretensions and illu­sions of Latvians both in exile and in Latvia. The setting of the play is the house occupied by Rainis and Aspazija during their exile in Switzerland (1906 - 1920), and presumably still occupied by their ghosts.

Ivars Galiņš contributes a hilarious account of his efforts to preserve his political virginity while an actor from the Daile Theatre of Rīga is his house-guest, during one of the first tours in the USA by a group from Rīga. We have reports on the new ensemble of the American Latvian Theatre in New York and its director, Māris Irbe, and on the potpourri of Anšlavs Eglītis' work presented by the Little Theatre of San Francisco, as well as an excerpt from Mārtiņš Zīverts' latest play Theatre.

Juris Thars describes in detail the-construc­tion of the figure at the top of the Monument to Freedom in Riga. The Monument has been a symbol of Latvian resistance to outsiders' oppression since it was built (1935), and was the scene of mass demonstrations on June 14 and August 23 of last year. Astrīde Ivaska describes her response to the June 14 demons­tration, and asks whether we here in exile would be willing to put our lives on the line as the young demonstrators in Rīga have done.

Our poetry section also includes a controver­sial and daring poem by Jānis Peters, originally printed in Literatūra un Māksla in August, 1987. Peters warns that Stalinism was not just Stalin's work, and that it still lies hidden in too many people: "they will wipe their tears on June 14 / for the innocent deported', but when the opportunity arises, they will "take the innocent / along with the enemy / in the knowledge that again / all the guilt / can be pushed onto One. " (translation I.V.)

We have reviews of books in many fields in this issue: music, history, folklore, painting, drama and linguistics. The frontispiece is a work by Dzintars Mežulis.


Ilze Valdmanis

Jaunā Gaita