NATIONAL THEATER UNDER ALFRĒDS JAUNUŠANS (previously, Andrejs Upītis Academic Drama Theater of LSSR (LPSR A. Upīša Akadēmiskais drāmas teātris))

Alfrēds Jaunušans (1919) started his stage career as an actor in 1947; his debut as a director was in 1955 with Lutovsky’s drama "Family Matter". Jaunušans demanded that the actor be "transparent" and credible in creating his or her character. He was interested in the "wrong" kind of people and causality as it appears in their lives: acting was supposed to reveal some answer to the question how a person has reached a particular crossroads in their life (e.g. Roze played by Velta Līne in Pēteris Pētersons’s "Man trīsdesmit gadu", 1962, etc.) He was best able to carry out his approach to the formal aspects of production through his collaboration with the set designer Gunārs Zemgals. 

As the artistic director of the theater (1966–1987), Jaunušans produced his programmatic work with the then younger generation actors: Antra Liedskalniņa, Uldis Dumpis, Ģirts Jakovļevs, Astrīda Kairiša et al., but together with director Mihails Kublinskis he also encouraged new approaches to roles among the prominent veteran actors, Anta Klints, Alfrēds Videnieks, Velta Līne, Lidija Freimane, Elza Radziņa, Kārlis Sebris, Jānis Kubilis, and others.  In his "wrong" people research, Jaunušans reached an ideal with the production of Tennessee Williams’s "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1969) with Antra Liedskalniņa as Blanche.  The characteristics of the romantic theater – the uniqueness of the main character, a tragic sense of guilt -- were prominent in the production of Alfred de Musset’s "Lorenzaccio" (1973) with Ģirts Jakovļevs in the title role.  Jaunušans’s imagination, his wit in setting up scenes acted to provoke actors’ playfulness and improvisation when interpreting comedies. Very sensitive and poetic was the production of Ferenz Molnar’s "Liliom" (1971). One of Imants Kalniņš’s songs written for this production became the anthem of the National Theater. Intensifying the passions and interrelationships in the classic "Skroderdienas Silmačos" by Rūdolfs Blaumanis (1975), Jaunušans freed the play from the mundane and the routine. As a warning he accentuated the signs of moral degradation in the stage productions of two comedies: Harijs Gulbis’s "Aijā žūžū, bērns kā lācis" (1968) and Pauls Putniņš’s "Paši pūta, paši dega" (1972). In the 1980s Jaunušans’s open-air productions of "Skroderdienas Silmačos", Brothers Kaudzītes "Mērnieku laiki", and Marģeris Zariņš’s "Didriķa Taizeļa brīnišķīgie piedzīvojumi" were seen by thousands in locations outside Riga. Under Jaunušans’s tutelage, several generations of actors honed their professional skills.  

In 1987 Mihails Kublinskis took over as the chief director of the theater, which regained its historic name a year later.

Under Jaunušans, the younger generation actor Valdis Lūriņš drew attention to himself as a leading talent in stage direction.

Alfreds Jaunušans died in 2008.

Lilija Dzene

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