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ULDIS PŪCĪTIS: AN OUTSTANDING LIVE PROCESS ACTOR OF THE LATVIAN THEATER

Uldis Pūcītis (1937-2000) played his first role while still a student at the Theater Faculty of the Latvian State Conservatoire.  Even though after graduation in 1959 Pūcītis was hired by the Liepāja Theater, his unique talent found its best outlet in the 1960s and 1970s in Pēteris Pētersons’s and Adolf Shapiro’s stage productions. At Liepāja, however, Pūcītis meets his first important directors, Nikolajs Mūrnieks and Oļģerts Kroders and reveals some of his unique characteristics as an actor.  As Matti in Brecht’s "Mr. Puntila and His Man Matti", Pūcītis was the first on Latvian stage to play his role in a quintessentially Brechtian manner: he was both his character and an outsider observing the character and the action and commenting on them. Despite their limited collaboration, Kroders has called Pūcītis an ideal actor who always had a precise understanding of any role and, with his creative initiative, could complement and enrich the director’s conception.

Between 1960 and 1996, Pūcītis worked intermittently with the Youth and Dailes theaters. In collaboration with Pētersons, he played the lead roles in Pētersons’s poetry productions: "Motocikls" by Imants Ziedonis (1967) and "Mystery of Man" by Vladimir Mayakovsky (1974) presenting himself as an ideal actor for Pētersons as well: laconic in outer expression, sensitive to the spiritual atmosphere of his time, thinking, intellectually analytical.

Playing the protagonists in Šapiros productions, Chekhov’s "Ivanov" (1975) and Ibsen’s "Per Gynt" (1979), Pūcītis revealed the inner drama of his heroes’ split, disharmonious personalities. In the sensitive and intellectual Ivanov’s painful confrontation with his own conscience and awareness of life lived in vain as in the tormented confession of the charismatic Per Gynt, the audience was exposed to the unique and contradictory personality of the actor, making these roles important milestones in the history of Latvian stage art. 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Uldis Pūcītis was cast in several roles at Dailes Theater; the most important of those was the grizzled Poet in the stage version of Aleksandrs Čaks’s epic poem "Mūžības skartie" in 1987.  

Pūcītis as an actor was characterized by a manly charm and truthfulness, an easily excitable temper, an artistic sense of the form and self-ironic sense of humor, subdued emotionality combined with the ability to communicate with the audience on a hypnotically energetic level as well as an intellectually reflective approach to any role, which served him very well both on the stage and screen (the most important movie roles: Edgars in Leonīds Leimanis’s "Purva bridējs" (1966) and Cēzars Kalniņš in Rolands Kalniņš’s "Elpojiet dziļi!" (1967))

The last years of his life Pūcītis spent off stage but managed to carry out an old dream: in 1997 he directed an acutely psychological TV version of R. Trasūns’s novel "Izpostītā ligzda".

Līga Ulberte

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