Latvian Art Theater

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Latvian Art Theater


(full name, J. Rainis Latvian Academic Art Theater), one of the leading drama theaters in the Latvian SSR. Opened in Riga in 1920. E. Smiļģis initiated its founding and served as artistic director until 1964.

From the day of its founding the Latvian Art Theater sought new theatrical forms; it struggled against stagnation and naturalism, striving for artistic truth. The determining role in forming its art was played by the dramas of J. Rainis (who became a member of the administration), as well as the works of Shakespeare and F. Schiller.

A new phase in the theater’s creative art began during the Soviet period; productions were staged that were permeated with romantic feeling and marked by profound realization of the content of the dramatic works: Fire and the Night (1947; State Prize of the USSR, 1947), I Played and Danced (1956), and Il’ia Muromets (1962) by Rainis; Anna Karenina (1949), based on Tolstoy’s novel; Maria Stuart by Schiller (1956); and Hamlet by Shakespeare (1959). A realistic tendency marked the production of Egor Bulychov and the Others by M. Gorky (1946).

During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the theater’s success was to a considerable extent associated with the productions of The Summer of the Younger Brother (1955), Even Though It’s Autumn (1956), and Vika’s First Ball (1960) by G. Priede. The production of Motorcycle, based on a work by Ziedonis (1967), became an event in the theater’s creative life. The repertoire includes works of Latvian, Russian, and foreign classical drama. The best productions are characterized by a monumental quality, a heroic-romantic tendency, and a clear, poetic theatrical form.

In 1954 the theater was named after J. Rainis, and in 1966 it was awarded the title “academic.” Members of the troupe have included the directors F. M. Ertnere and P. J. Pētersons and the artists O. E. Skulme and G. A. Vilks. As of 1973, the troupe included People’s Artists of the USSR V. Artmane and L. D. Bērzina; People’s Artists of the Latvian SSR L. P. Žvīgule, E. J. Zīle, M. J. Klētniece, D. A. Kuple, and E. K. Pāvuls; and Honored Artist of the Latvian SSR H. J. Liepiņš. Since 1971 the principal director has been Honored Art Worker of the Latvian SSR A. A. Liniņš.


Kundziņš, K. E. Latyshskii teatr: Ocherk istorii. Moscow, 1963. Grēvinš, M. Dailes teātris. Riga, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.