Extracts from the book „Valka’s Diligence” by A. Ikšelis issued in the framework of the Project „Border Light”

The present study was elaborated with the financial assistance of theEstonia–Latvia– Russia Cross Border Cooperation Programme within European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument 2007 – 2013.

The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the Valka Municipality Council and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the Programme, Programme participating countries, alongside with the European Union.

The main idea of the Project ”Border Light” was to improve mutual cultural relations between Latvia and Russia and to develop cross-border co-operation network as a tool for increasing attractiveness of the border areas of Latvia, Estonia and Russia. The aim of the Project has been achieved thanks to the joint cross-border activities in the partner municipalities of Valka and Gatchina (Russia) that promoted communication among local inhabitants, art education establishments and amateur theatres, as well as strengthened contacts obtained during trainings and international theatre festivals, studies of the local theatre history, exchange of actors between the Valka Town Theatre and the experimental theatre “Za uglom” from Gatchina.


The first performances in Valka. Director Mārtiņš Ūdris

At the end of the 19th century, thanks to Mārtiņš Ūdris, the theatre, choir and concert life in Valka became more active. He was born in 1839 at the manor of Valmiera. He studied at the teachers’ seminary and after graduation worked as the principal of theLugažiParishSchoolfor 48 years. He was a choir and orchestra conductor and a very active public figure. He died on July 22, 1921, and was buried at theLugažiCemetery.

Theatre history in Valka (Walk)


In the 70-s and 80-s of the 19th century after the abolition of serfdom and the agrarian and other reforms, more and more people from the country migrated to the town ofValka. Travelling artists were frequent guests in the town. They performed at pubs, market places, society houses and the Valka German Society „Musse” hall.  Local German amateur artists also participated at charity events. Closed performances were organised at the manors around Valka and local landlord family members and their friends were both actors and spectators.

In the second half of the 19th century the serious theatre art become popular in Valka. Baumaņu Kārlis who studied at the J. Cimze Seminary from 1853 till 1856, in his diary has mentioned a theatre performance in Valka on November 13, 1855. Kārlis Pēteris Kundziņš, a literature and theatre researcher, who compiled materials for his book „History of Latvian Theatre”, mentioned a fact that already in 1870 in Valka a closed Latvian theatre performance was held at the J. Cimze Teacher Training Seminary.

In 1902 the newspaper „Baltijas Vēstenis” published an article about the first Latvian theatre performance in Valka in 1871 at the „Musse” hall under the leadership of Mārtiņš Ūdris. The performance was a real success; the hall was too small to accept all who wanted to see the performance. Totally around 36 performances were held at the „Musse” hall till 1887.

In 1885 the Valka Public Society was established and they overtook organising of theatre performances; they constructed a hall and a stage. Since1887 the Society organized around 60 theatre performances.

In October of 1875 Alunāns with his theatre company performed in Valka and showed two of his plays.

The information obtained from the local newspapers is too poor to get a full insight about theatre performances and, most probably, not all of them were reflected in the newspaper. TheValkaLocalHistoryMuseumsafeguards a poster of a theatre performance on November 27, 1877; it certifies that there were charity performances as well and the particular one was meant for wounded soldiers. From the poster we learn not only about the performance, but also about price differences in accordance with placement of seats.

On April 7, 1892, people could see a romantic play by Kārlis Mačernieks that was a compilation of several German national plays.

In 1894 Jurijs Orgusevs moved to Valka. He was a salesman and also participated in activities of the Valka Satiety Society; the society had a small theatre company. He used to write plays where he depicted real local events. In 1888 J. Orgusevs wrote his first play and some more followed later.

On December 7, 1897, at the Musse Hall in Valka, a theatre troupe of Roberts and Vilija Jansone („Āgenskalns Latvian Summer Theatre”) performed „Faust” by Goethe.

In 1898, on the stage of the  Valka Public Society, the Valka Latvian Theatre performed a play by the Austrian playwright Ferdinand Raimund.

Ups and downs in the theatre life in Valka had begun.


Societies – cherishers of theatre art

Despite of the complicated political situation inLatviaat the beginning of the 20th century, the theatre life in Valka gradually became stronger. It was promoted by general flourishing of literature and art and versatile activities of different societies. They chose and performed plays suitable for local resources, stages and environment. We can learn about this period only from advertisements and reviews in the newspapers. There are no any other articles or written documents. We have summarized the theatre life in Valka during the first ten years of the 20th century when A.Liepiņš was the director of the Public Society and thanks to him local inhabitants became so attracted to theatre.



Information about a performance by the Valka Public Society Theatre in the newspaper „Vārds”. The society house was opened with a play by Ferdinand Raimund; there were a lot of songs in the performance.



Both the world classics and popular national plays with jokes and songs were staged in Valka. In 1902 the Valka Public Society Theatre staged a short version of the opera „Ivan Susanin” by Mikhail Glinka and this important event was depicted in several newspapers, such as „Baltijas Vēstnesis” and „Dienas Lapa”.


On December 15, 1902, Kārlis Šmits, one of the actors of the Valka Public Society Theatre celebrated the 30th anniversary since he started to play theatre. The event was celebrated with the play „The Swede” (“Zviedris”) by Puriņu Klāvs and Kārlis Šmits played the leading part. The performance was very rich in songs by Latvian composers, Vīgneru Ernests and Jurjānu Andrejs including.



The newspapers „Rīgas Avīze” and „Dienas Lapa” advertised two plays staged by the Valka Public Society Theatre: „Three Steps to Happiness” (“Trīs soļi uz laimi”) by Jēkabs Zeibolts and “The Tailors’ Days in Silmači” („Skroderienas Silmačos”) by Rūdolfs Blaumanis.



A special event in the culture life of Valka was a visit of the troupe of Roberts Tautmīlis-Bērziņš.  On July 31, 1904, the troupe performed „Iphigenia in Tauris” by J.W.Goethe.



The newspaper „Dienas Lapa” advertised a number of performances in Valka: on May 7 – „Monna Vanna” by M. Meterlink, on May 8 – „Dorina” by G. Roveta and „Anatols on the wedding morning” by A.Schnicler under the guidance of R. Tautmīlis-Bērziņš.

This year the Valka Public Society Theatre staged the famous play “In the Fire” („Ugunī”) by Rūdols Blaumanis.


On September 23 the Valka Public Society Theatre performed the first play „The Tragedy” (“Traģēdija”) by Jānis  Jaunsudrabiņš.



On February 17, 1908, the newspaper „Dzimtenes Vēstnesis” invited theatre lovers to visit the Valka Latvian Society to see the performance of the play „In the marsh” (“Purvā”) by Jukums Palevičs; the play had been forbidden in 1897 by the censorship.



On March 15, 1909, the Valkas Mutual Help Society performed the play „The Lower Depths” by Maksim Gorky. A lecture on Maksim Gorky was presented before the performance.

On March 31, 1909, the newspaper „Jaunā Dienas Lapa” wrote that the Valka Public Society performed the play “From the Sweet Bottle” (“No saldenās pudeles”) by Rūdolfs Blaumanis, but on July 19,  the Interim Theatre, a successor of the Riga Latvian Theatre, performed the play “Youth” (“Jaunība”) by Maksis Halbe. Director – Reinholds Veics. Cast: Anniņa – D. Akmentiņa, Hanss Hartvigs – R. Veics, the chaplain Gregors – Ernests Elks-Elksnītis. There was an agricultural exhibition in Valka on these days and participants and visitors could devote their time also to cultural activities.



On January 31, the Valka Latvian Mutual Help Society Theatre performed the play “Zeltīte “ by Aspazija. The role of Zeltīte was played by the invited actress Biruta Skujeniece. On April 3 Biruta Skujeniece visited Valka once more and performed in the play “All Souls’ Day” by the Dutch author Herman Heyerman.

A. Liepiņš, Director, celebrated the 10th anniversary since he started to work at the Valka theatre. On April 19 he celebrated it with the play „The Baby Bears” (“Lāču bērni”) that was written by Jānis Akuraters in the same year.


The Valka Public Society Theatre staged the play „The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov and Biruta Skujeniece played the part of Nina. The theatre also staged „Othello” by William Shakespeare; they invited some guest actors fromRigaand the leading part was played by Reinholds Veics.

On August 8, 1910, the Valka Public Society celebrated the 25th anniversary and its theatre troupe performed the play „Our Ancestors” (“Mūsu senči”) by Ādolfs Alunāns; the director was Reinholds Veics. During these 25 years the Society had organised 85 theatre performances and 72 concerts, but the Valka Latvian Mutual Help Society Theatre invited spectators to the opening night of the play „Indrāni” by Rūdolfs Blaumanis.

On September 26 the Valka Latvian Mutual Help Society Theatre performed the play „The Teacher Flaksmanis” (“Skolotājs Flaksmanis”) by Oto Ernsts.


The Valka Public Society Theatre organised a memorial evening dedicated to the composer Emīls Dārziņš and they performed the play „The Tragedy” (“Traģēdija”) by  Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš.

November 25, 1910, came with sad news: K.Šmits, the founder of the Valka Public Society Theatre, died. During this year the Valka Public Society had organised 66 theatre performances, but it is difficult to evaluate their artistic quality.

In 1910 the Valka Latvian Mutual Help Society organised seven performances that were staged by local directors such as J. Pavlovičs, H. Pavlovičs, A. Zommers and J. Egle. On December 5, the Valka Latvian Mutual Help Society organized a memorial evening dedicated to Leo Tolstoy (the writer died on November 20); their theatre troupe performed his drama „The Power of Darkness”.



On January 6 the Valka Latvian Mutual Help Society Theatre performed the play „Gaudeamus” by Leonid Andreyev, one of the most talented silver epoch writers inRussia.  On February 13 the Theatre performed the play „In the Fire” (“Ugunī”) by Rūdolfs Blaumanis.

On March 20 the theatre „Atauga” of the Latvian students’ society in Dorpat visited Valka and performed the plays „Saturday Evening” (“Sestdienas vakars”) by Rūdolfs Blaumanis and „The Witch” (“Ragana”) by Andrejs Upītis at the Musse Hall of the Valka German Society.

The two local theatres – the Valka Mutual Help Society Theatre and the Valka Public Society Theatre – had a kind of continuous competition which of them would have more new performances and would attract more spectators. Both of them staged a number of new performances and it was advertised in the newspapers.


The New Riga Theatre visited Valka in June with the plays „Anfisa”, by Leonid Andreyev and „The Shelter of Magdalena or His Highness” by Lipshits and Dav. In November the New Riga theatre came again with the play “Northern Heroes” by Henrik Ibsen. These visits were like fresh winds in the theatre life of Valka.



The Valka Latvian Mutual Help Society celebrated its third anniversary. From 1909 till 1911 its theatre troupe had staged 26 plays, organised six events dedicated to writers and a number of other events. The New Year started with a performance of the play „Voice and Echo” (“Balss un atbalss”)  by Andrejs Upītis. The theatre also staged a number of plays by Russian playwrights, for example, „Uncle Vanya” by Anton Chekhov and „The Living Corpse” by Leo Tolsty.

In July there was an agriculture and industry exhibition in Valka and both the theatre of the Valka Latvian Mutual Help Society and the theatre of the Valka Public Society dedicated their new performances to that event, such as „Indrāni” by Rūdolfs Blaumanis and „Home Hatred” ( “Mājas naids”) by Jēkabs Zeibolts.

Both the theatres concluded their season in November with new performances.


1914 – 1917

In 1914 and 1915 the Valka Public Society and the Valka Latvian Mutual Help Society organized culture festivals in the town park with theatre performances, concerts and dance parties. Two plays by Rainis – „The Golden Horse” (“Zelta zirgs”) and „Blow, Wind!” (“Pūt, vējiņi!”) – were performed during the events; they were directed by Aleksis Mierlauks (Frīdfelds), who was the manager of the New Riga Theatre. In the play „Blow, Wind!” the part of Baiba was played by the famous Latvian actress Dace Akmentiņa, who had left the Riga Latvian Theatre; it is her only part in a play by Rainis because the theatre where she had been working for most of her artistic life did not stage the plays by Rainis.


Theatre performances became more and more popular as parts of different charity events.


Estonian professional theatre

In 1911 when the Estonian Society „Säde” opened its house, musical performances and dramas in Estonian were held there. From 1911 till 1948 the Professional Estonian theatre „Säde” worked in Valka. There is a memorial plague at the building.

The house of the Estonian Society „Säde” was made of two parts. On the second floor there was a theatre hall with very good acoustics. The hall was connected with a big lobby and a recreation room; there was also a buffet.  The troupe consisted of twenty to twenty-five actors; most famous of them were the following: Ant Pahala, Marija Peiva, Oto Reudheiding, Ksenija Palmre, Jānis Ratnieks, Teodors Lips,  Alfrēds and Ilmārs Uibopusi.

The house where the theatre was located suffered from several fires; the most destructive one was in 1920 when the stage, the hall and the dressing rooms burned down. During the Second World War, German soldiers who were located in the town came to performances. After the fourth fire, the theatre did not renew its activities.


Performances by Latvian riflemen

Regiments of Latvian riflemen had small theatre troupes that organized performances for soldiers. Some of the professional actors became their members. In 1917 several Latvian riflemen theatre troupes presented their performances in Valka, for example, the theatre of the 6th Tukums Latvian Riflemen Regiment and the theatre of the 2nd Riga Latvian Riflemen Regiment.


Latvian professional theatres in Valka

At the end of 1917, Valka became an important centre of public and cultural life inLatvia.  A professional Latvian theatre was established there, as actors from the theatre „Comedy” fromRigahad come to Valka as refugees. Under the name of „Comedy” the theatre existed for three months, from October till December, 1917.


The Valka Workers’ Theatre was established on July 17, 1917. The theatre organized regular performances once or twice a week. Since 1918, its activities were managed by the newly established workers’ club „Liesma”. On January 19, 1918, an official opening performance of the Valka Workers’ Theatre „Liesma” took place; it was the play „Work and Bread” (“Darbs un maize”) by Jānis Linde-Lindulis.

The Valka Workers’ Theatre „Liesma” offered performances twice a week. The following actors were on the staff: Tija Banga-Kopštāle, Ludmila Špīlberga-Simsone, Ņina Purkalīte, Jānis Simsons, Kristaps Koškins, Voldemārs Ābrams, Vilis Bergmanis, Kārlis Pabriks and Lilija Ērika-Freimane.

Here are some of the plays staged by the theatre: „In the Coalmines” by Emil Rozenov,  a German social democrat, „In the Whilrwind” by the Estonian playwright August Kicberg, „The Goasts” by Henrik Ibsen, „The Black Shirts” by V.Protopopov, etc.


Beginning of the National Theatre

In February of 1918, some more actors from Rigacame to Valka as refugees. On April 23, 1918, with the play „Blow, Wind!” (“Pūt, vējiņi!”) by Rainis, director Jānis Plūme, a new theatre – the Latvian  Provisonal National Theatre – was established.  They held performances in Valka and also visited Valmiera, Alūksne and other towns inNorthern Latvia. The cast: Voldemārs Ābrams, Otīlija Āriņa, Tija Banga, Hermīne Bensone, Vilis Bergmanis, Alīse Brehmane, Jānis Dukāts, Auguste Feldmane, Rodrigo Kalniņš, Kristaps Koškins, Tikla Kronenberga, Ērihs Lauberts, Ludvigs Laus, Jānis Lībeks, Jānis Marsietis, Reinis Parņickis, Teodors Podnieks, Jānis Simsons, Mirdza Šmithene, Ludmila Špīlberga, Velta Vernere-Zommere, Alfrēds Zommers.

Directors – Vilis Bergmanis, Kristaps Koškins, Ērihs Lauberts, Jānis Plūme, Jānis Simsons. They staged plays by Rūdolfs Blaumanis, Anna Brigadere, Edvards Vulfs and others.

To support the activities of the Latvian Provisional National Theatre in Valka, the Latvian Provisional National Theatre Union was founded.

At the end of 1918, the Workers’Theatre of SovietLatviawas being organised The actors were invited to return toRigaand on December 22, 1918, the Latvian Provisional National Theatre left Valka forRiga.


After the border was drawn

In the 20s and 30s of the previous century, when the national border betweenLatviaandEstoniawas drawn in Valka and Latvians got only sandy suburbs, the local people needed great courage and energy to build the new town and its cultural life. Theatre performances, concerts and other events were held outdoors. Every summer white boats with holiday makers were flowing along the Pedele from the new Estonian border till thelakeZāģezers.

After the establishment of the border, the Estonian Valka Public Society with its theatre troupe stayed inEstonia. At the beginning of the 20s of the 20th century they staged a number of comedies, such as „The Swimmer Zuzannua” (“Peldētāja Zuzanna”) by Andrejs Upītis, „The Marriage” by Nicolay Gogoļ, etc.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was also a Jewish theatre in Valka atRīgas Street; its manager was Bahmata. They say that the theatre staged high-quality performances. The leading actress was Anna Šteinerte.


Establishment of an own theatre

In 1924 the Valka Education Society invited to Valka Kristaps Linde, an actors and director of the Riga National Theatre, who had graduated from a theatre school in Petersburgand afterwards worked in theatres in Russia. Kristaps Linde was offered to stage the dramatic piece „Our Ancestors” (“Mūsu senči”) („Vanems Imanta”) by Ādolfs Alunāns at the theatre troupe of the Valka Education Society; the play was about heroic fights of ancient Latvians against crusaders. It was an open air performance and it was held on August 3, 1924, at the Ērģeme castle ruins.

On October 24, 1925, the newspaper „Ziemeļlatvija” informed its readers that the local education society with the help of other societies and organisations had established a resident theatre; its director was Andrejs Stulpiņš.

There was shortage of premises for theatre performances in Valka. The first performances were held in the halls of schools. The situation changed for the better after the construction of the Society House that was opened in the autumn of 1926.

As theatre became more and more popular in Valka, there was a necessity to have educated actors. The first theatre courses in Valka were organised by the Education Society in 1926.

In 1930 public organizations from a number of towns in Northern Latviadecided to establish a theatre that would cover all these towns. They named it the Northern Latvia Theatre. The theatre was opened in Valmiera on October 5, 1930, with the play “The Builder of the Tower” (“Torņa cēlējs”) by Aspazija. A week later they had a performance in Valka. The directors was Voldemārs Ābrams, the stage designer – J. Arnītis,  the cast: A. Aris-Ārenss, Zelma Ārente, M. Bormane, Elfrīda Brice, K. Draudiņš, K. Draudziņš, Jānis Einbergs, M. Feldmane, E. Grigulis, K. Gubina, Asja Kalniņa, Hēra Kīne, E. Koķe, E. Kukainis, P. Kūns, J. Mintiks, Fr. Muižnieks, Fr. Mūrnieks, J. Puķītis, V. Pūlis, V. Ronis, Ansis Svainis, Z. Vīgante, P. Vīgants, O, Zēmele.

In the 30s the theatre life was very active in Valka; there were a number of theatre troupes that offered their performances. Theatre courses were also organised a number of times.

The forties came with drastic changes and inexpressible sufferings. The war destroyed the culture life of the town. Theatre performances were gradually replaced by cinema performances.


New theatre generation in new social and political circumstances

After the war, the Soviet power returned to Valka, but the cultural life did not stop. In difficult economic conditions people were more and more eager to be involved in cultural activities. The theatre was the first to renew its activities in Valka.

Already in 1946, at the Valka District Culture House (the former Society House) there were two theatre troupes with twenty members. Theatre troupes were called drama circles. On July 13, 1946, the Latvian Drama Group of the Valka District Culture House presented the comedy „A Tench in the Fish-Basket” (“Līnis murdā”) by Edvards Vulfs; the director was Marija Māra Biseniece.

In 1947 there were still two drama groups in the Valka District Culture House with fifty-three actors; one of the groups was Russian. The director of the Latvian drama group Marija Māra Biseniece staged the play „”Blow, Wind!” (“Pūt, vējiņi!”) by Rainis and with that performance the group participated at the competition of the Valka district drama groups. The group also staged a couple of short plays by Anna Brodele. The Russian drama group staged the play „The Thunderstorm” by Nikolay Ostrovsky.

The leaders of drama groups were unprofessional directors employed by the Valka District Culture House as interest circle managers. Costumes were made by actors themselves, but mostly they used their private clothes, as after the war it was very difficult to get materials for making new costumes.

In 1948 the new director Elvīra Janava staged the play “The Golden Field” (“Zelta druva”) by Anna Brodele. In 1949 she staged the play “Platon Krechet” by the Ukrainian playwright Aleksander Korneychuk; this play was were popular among theatre groups in the 40s and 50s, but the LSSR National Academic Drama Theatre presented it even in the beginning of the 60s with great success.

In 1950 the Valka District Culture House Drama Group (Latvian) had 24 members. Director – Marija Māra Biseniece. In 1956, the group had 30 members.

In February, 1959, the competition of the  Valka district drama groups was held.  The drama group of the Valka Culture House was very successful with the play „The Stone Nest” by  H. Vuolijoki. The jury members were not unanimous; they did not award the first place, but the second place was awarded to the Valka drama group. Nevertheless, their performance was not nominated for participation at the inter-district competition. It was the first time when the drama group of the Valka District Culture House was evaluated so highly, but the peculiar situation offended the director Marija Māra Biseniece and she decided to quit.

In 1959 the actor Rolands Zemmers from the Valmiera Drama Theatre named after Leons Paegle started to work as the director of the  drama group of the Valka District Culture House. He staged the play „The Tailor Days in Silmači” (“Skroderdienas Silmačos”) by Rūdolfs Blaumanis and „The Old People” (“Vecīši”) by Harijs Gulbis. It was the first play by Harijs Gulbis to be staged. He worked as a teacher at theValkaSecondary Schooland he entrusted to the Valka theatre to stage his first play.

After a year, in 1960, Ēvalds Mercs, Director of the Valmiera Drama Theatre, took over the Valka theatre group and staged the comedy „Have a Nice Trip!” by Victor Rozov. Assistant Director − Alfrēds Ūdris, Stage Designer − Jānis Lasmanis. The cast: Silvija Frīdenberga, Visdaris Frīdenbergs, Eiženija Grante, Zigmārs Ķaukulis, Jānis Lasmanis, Juris Rusmanis, Inta Siliņa, Dzidra Sirmā, Maksis Stepītis and Alfrēds Ūdris.

In 1961, the director Marija Māra Biseniece returned and staged the play „The Bridge” (“Tilts”) by Ilze Indrāne. Their performance was also transmitted as a live broadcast on the Latvian television.


The winner of the national competition                                  

January 27, 1963, was the opening night of the drama “Indrāni” by Rūdolfs Blaumanis. Director – Leons Liepa, Stage Designer – Mintauts Knope. With this performance the drama group of the Valka District Culture House participated at the national competition of drama groups and won the first place among 2000 drama groups with 28 000 members. Their performance was highly evaluated by Venta Vecumniece, Director of theArtTheatrenamed after Jānis Rainis.

After the competition the drama group of the Valka District Culture House deserved to be attributed to the name of the Folk Theatre. It did not happen because they had to stage more plays by Soviet authors. In 1963 the director Leons Liepa staged the play “A House in the Suburbs” by Aleksey Arbuzov, but in 1964 – the play “I Love You” by Valentin Katayev. In 1965 they repeatedly staged the play “Platon Krechet” by Aleksander Korneichuk.

Dzintra Mendziņa, a professional director, started to lead the drama group of the Valka District Culture House and in 1966 they staged the play “The Anchor Square” by the Check playwright Izidor Sztok and the play “Vika’s First Ball” (“Vikas pirmā balle”) by Gunārs Priede, but in 1967 – the play “The Thieves” (“Zagļi”) by Rūdolfs Blaumanis. In 1971, Dzintra Mendziņa staged the play “Restless Age” by Leonid  Rahmanov.

In 1972 the director Romāns Meinarts staged the play “Medea” by Jean Anouilh; it was performed fifty times and was in the repertoire till 1976.

1972 – “Natasha” by Mihail Beretinsky, Director –  Inta Andersone.

1973 – “The Black Comedy” by Peter Shefer, Director – Romāns Meinarts.

In 1973 Dzintra Mendziņa renewed the performance of the drama „Indrāni” by R.Blaumanis and the performance won the first place at the national competition of drama groups once more. The drama was performed 73 times.

1974 – the comedy „Aijā, žūžū, bērns kā lācis”  by Harijs Gulbis, Director – Leons Liepa.

1974 – the comedy “The Naked, the Crazy” (“Jo pliks, jo traks”) by Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš, Director – Leons Liepa.

1975 – “The Tribunal” by Andrei Makayonok, Director – Leons Liepa.

The drama group often went on tours around the Valka district and neighbouring districts. They had a lot of prospects for the coming years, but in 1977 the director Leons Liepa left Valka and his theatre.

In 1979 the director Rolands Meinerts invited the actors to come together again and they restarted their activities. Unfortunately, in 1982 Rolands Meinerts had to leave Valka and moved to Talsi.

The actor Jānis Dauksts from the Valmiera Drama Theatre was invited to become the director of the theatre, but he was too busy at his main work in Valmiera. None of the planned performances was completed. The local actors did not believe in the future of the theatre in Valka.


A new beginning

In the autumn of 1984, Rima Paleja, Director of the Valka District Culture House, invited  Aivars Makārovs (Ikšelis) to become the leader of the drama group.   At first the interest was very little – only one person – Valdis Ārgalis – came to the first meeting with the new director. Despite of all problems, in March 1985 the drama group presented the comedy “The Thieves” (“Zagļi”) by Rūdolfs Blaumanis. Director – Aivars Makārovs (Ikšelis), Stage Designer –  Donalds Smelteris. For the first time the performance was held at the ethnographic farm „Ielīces”   that is located a few kilometres from Valka and Vijciems.  The   fans of the Latvian cinema know that the films “Blow, Wind!” (“Pūt, vējiņi”) and “The Werewolves’ Heiress” (“Vilkaču mantiniece”) were shot on this farm. The play “The Thieves” was performed 68 times.

May 7, 1986 – the drama “The Mother” by Karel Chapek, Director – Aivars Makārovs (Ikšelis), Stage Gesigner – Donalds Smelteris.

June 21, 1987 – the drama “The Flamimng Drakness”  by  Antonio Buero Vallejo, Director – Aivars Makārovs (Ikšelis), Stage Gesigner – Maija Kaimiņa.

In August 1987, the drama group of the Valka District Culture House went on tour toBashkiriato visit the Latvian exile places.  Their present to the Latvians residing inSiberiawas the comedy “The Thieves” (“Zagļi”) by R.Blaumanis. They visited a number of villages where Latvians lived. Local inhabitants were very interested to attend the performances. The halls were overcrowded; they even took out windows and doors, so that those who could not enter the hall could watch the performance from the outside. The writer Marina Kosteņecka accompanied them on the tour. The tour was widely reflected in Latvian newspapers and there was also a TV show about it.

In June 1988, the drama group went on one more trip toRussia. This time they travelled to the former Latvian exile places in theKrasnoyarskregion. The drama group was accompanied by the director and actress of the Jānis Rainis Art Theatre Venta Vecumniece.


The Theatre−Studio

On December 12, 1988, the Executive Committee of the Valka District Deputy Committee passed a decision to rename the drama group of the Valka District Culture House as the Valka Town Theatre Studio. It was not only the change of the name; the theatre had a studio where actors were taught in accordance with the methodology elaborated by the director Mikhail Chekov.

In May 31, 1989, the play “Justiina” by Hella Wuolijoki was performed.

In 1990 the theatre-studio staged the psychological drama “The Violet of Udmurtiya” (“Udmurtijas vijolīte”) by Gunārs Priede; Director and stage designer – Aivars Makārovs (Ikšelis). With this performance the theatre-studio went on a trip toAustraliato visit Latvians living there. They performed in the Latvian Houses inAdelaide,MelbourneandSydney.

At the end of 1990, the theatre-studio staged an experimental play “My Life” after a book by Edith Piaf. The play was performed in the chamber hall and spectators were sitting at tables and drinking coffee like in a cafe inParis.

In 1991 Aivars Ikšelis staged “The Stones of Doubts” (“Šaubu akmeņi”) by Atis Skalbergs and the play “It is Midnight, Doctor Schweitzer!” by Gilbert Sesbron, which was the first performance of this play inLatvia.

In 1994 the Valka Town Theatre-Studio staged the tragicomedy „Filumena Marturano”  by Eduardo de Filipo and a performance compiled of meditations by Velga Krile.

In 1995 – 1996 – the play “The Human Voice” by Jean Cocteau, Director Aivars Ikšelis, Stage Designer – Maija Kaimiņa.


The Town Theatre

In 1997 the Valka Town Theatre-Studio was renamed as the Valka Town Theatre. That year the theatre staged two plays. One of them was the play “Eurydice” by the French playwright Jean Anouilh, Director – Aivars Ikšelis, Stage Designer − Maija Kaimiņa.

The other one was a poetry performance with poems by Austra Skujiņa, Valdis Grēviņš and Aleksandrs Čaks, as well as fragments of the screenplay about par Austra Skujiņa.


New forms, colours and sounds

A new page in the chronicles of the Valka Town Theatre was the drama “Kain” by Velga Krile that was staged in 1998. Director − Aivars Ikšelis, Stage Designer− Maija Kaimiņa, Choreographer − Ina Nagle. With this performance the theatre started seeking of a new style of artistic forms.


The theatre is not dead. Long live the theatre!                                  

Modernism in theatre started in the second half of the 19th century and it has also influenced the theatre art in the 21st century.  In the performances of the Valka Town Theatre, you can find a tendency to neglect the dominating role of the written text.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the Valka Town Theatre had a strong troupe that mostly consisted of local intellectuals who had obtained higher education in their professions.

In 1979 Velga Krile wrote the play „The Catastrophe”   (“Katastrofa”) and   the Valka Town Theatre staged it in 2000. It was not a traditional theatre performance, as the dramaturgical material was very complicated. The plot remained in the background and spectators’ psychological feelings during the performance were brought forward. Director – Aivars Ikšelis, Stage Designer Maija Kaimiņa, Choreographer  Ina Nagle, Musical setting –  Andris Niklāvičs.

In 2000 the performance won the main prize at the international theatre festival „Focus2000” in Salzburg, Austria. At the 3rd international theatre festival in Haapsalu, Estonia, it won the Grand Prix.

The play “The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekov is considered to be the best of his literary works. The Valka Town Theatre staged it in 2001. Director – Aivars Ikšelis. The cast: Ranyevska – Ilze Ivane, Anja – Solvita Izmailova, Varya – Daiga Sondare, Gayev – Aleksandrs Primaks, Lopahin – Aigars Pulle, Trofimov – Klāvs Ganiņš, Dunyasha – Kristīne Ganiņa, Firs – Maksis Stepītis.

In 2003 the Valka Town Theatre staged the drama “Ivanov” by Anton Chehov. Director – Aivars Ikšelis, Stage Designer – Kristīne Ganiņa, Choreographer – Ina Nagle.

In 2005 the Valka Town Theatre staged the drama “Irongrass” (“Dzelszāle”) by Inga Ābele; the play was her diploma work when she graduated from theLatvianCultureAcademy.

In 2005 the theatre also staged the play “The Doggy” (“Sunītis”) by Lelde Stumbre. Director – Aivars Ikšelis. In the role of Augusts Maksis Stepītis.

The Valka Town Theatre finished its 135th anniversary year with a new performance – a stage version of the story “The Black Monk” by Anton Chehov.

In 1998 the German playwright Heiner  Müller  wrote the tragedy “Medea. Material”. In 2006 this play was for the first time staged inLatviaat the Valka Town Theatre. Translation from German – Kristīne Viļķina (Simonova). Director – Aivars Ikšelis. Medea – Daiga Sondare.

In 2005 the Latvian dramatist Agita Draguna wrote the monodrama „The Crack”  (“Plaisa”). The Valka Town Theatre staged the play in 2007. The leading role was played by  Aleksandrs Primaks. Director and stage designer Aivars Ikšelis.

In 2007 the theatre staged the play “The Light of Loneliness” by Andrey Zinchuk. Director – Aivars Ikšelis, the leading role – Jurijs Mencis.

In 2008 the Valka Town Theatre staged another play by Agita Draguna – the novella “The Gorge” (“Aiza”); the performance was financially supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation. The roles were played by Aigars Pulle (Kirilis – a monk, a priest) and Mudīte Pulle (Anastasija – a novice). Director – Aivars Ikšelis.

In 2009 the Valka Town Theatre received a parcel from Minsk, Byelorussia. The parcel contained the latest play by the Byelorussian dramatist Nicolay Rutkovsky – „Bergman’s Women”. It was first performed on June 10, 2010, on the renovated stage of the chamber hall. The part of Ingrid was played by a last-year student of the Russian Federation Oryol State Art and Culture Institute; Liv – Daina Kreile, Director – Jānis Brīdiņš. The director of the performance was Aivars Ikšelis, the musical setting – Andris Niklavičs, video operators Jānis Ēķis and Kristīne Ganiņa.

In 2011 the Valka Town Theatre staged the story “I am Falling At Your Feet” by the Japanese writer Osamu Dazai. The story was translated into Latvian by Zane Brūvere-Kvēpa. Director – Aivars Ikšelis. The part of Judas Iscariot – Jānis Brīdiņš.

It might seem that the Valka Town Theatre has an inclination to be philosophical. Nevertheless, the theatre continues to speak about the main values of human life. The theatre addresses its spectators in a topical and modern language.

In 2012 the theatre staged the play “The Monkey Woman” by Andrey Zinchuk. The moto of the performance is a poem by Anna Ahmatova. Director and stage designer – Aivars  Ikšelis, choreographer – Jevgenija Kozlova. Cast: Daiga Sondare and Gunita Gendrjuka. The performance was staged in cooperation with the experimental theatre „Za uglom” fromGatchina,Russia, in the framework of the project „Border Light”.

In 2013 the Valka Town Theatre staged the play “Edith Piaf. My Legionary” by Kseniya Dragunskaya. Director – Aivars Ikšelis. Cast: Jevgenija Kozlova, Aleksandrs Primaks and Vilis Daņilovs.


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