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Borisas Dauguvietis - 125

Borisas Dauguvietis, a theatre director, actor, theatre educationist, playwright, journalist, and painter, was born on 26 March, 1885 in Dauguviečiai, Biržai region. He finished gymnasium in Mintauja. In 1903-1905 he studied agronomy and economics at Riga Polytechnic Institute, in 1906-1909 – at the Imperial Theatre School in St. Petersburg (course directors S. Jakovlev and V.Dovydov). In 1909-1913 he played at St. Petersburg Literature and Art Society Theatre and later became one of its directors. He acted and staged plays in various theatres in Russia, was a head of an enterprise in Grodno.

In 1921 he came back to Lithuania. At first he worked as a forestry officer in the Forest Service of Biržai region and at the same was greatly involved in the activities of Biržai Art Society “Mūza” (“The Muse”): managed a theatre school there, staged plays. From 18 December, 1923 till 1941 he was a director and an actor of the State Theatre (in 1931-1935 he staged plays in Šiauliai department of the State Theatre whereas in 1935-1936 worked exclusively in Kaunas). He was far from slow in staging plays – he would complete up to twelve performances a year. Thanks to him the audience got acquainted with the classic works of world and Lithuanian literature. He worked in a team with Kazys Binkis, Augustinas Gricius, Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas. Dauguvietis was a close friend of Petras Vaičiūnas and dramatised all his plays: “The Perturbed Peace”, “Efforts in Vain”, “Patriots”, “The Sinful Angel”, “New People”, “The Broken Oath”, “The Resurrection”, “The Golden Letter”, and others. Among Dauguvietis’ most significant plays of that period are Shakespeare’s “Othello” and “The Winter’s Tale”, Molière’s “Tartuffe” and “The Imaginary Invalid”, H. Ibsen’s “The Pillars of Society”, P. Vaičiūnas’ “Patriots” and “The Resurrection”, F. Schiller’s “The Robbers” and “Mary Stuart”, A. Ostrovski’s “The Profitable Place”, Sophocles’ “Oedipus at Colonus”.

B. Dauguvietis was a versatile personality, read a lot, and had a prodigious memory. He was interested not only in theatre but other fields of art and science as well. Nature attracted him; he would go for a rest to his fatherland, to his native grange. He was a sports fan, a very good chess player, fond of boxing and cycling. More than once he was a referee at amateur cycling races and boxing competitions. Together with K. Glinskis founded a drama school in 1924 in Kaunas. It was his initiative to establish an art journal “7 meno dienos” (7 art days). In 1928 he wrote a book “Theatrical Moscow”. Together with K. Dubra translated into Lithuanian O. Ernst’s play “Educators” which was staged at the State Theatre’s department in Šiauliai on 17 January, 1934.

In 1940-1941 Dauguvietis was a director of the Jewish theatre in Kaunas. When Germans occupied Kaunas Dauguvietis together with his family moved to the provinces. He lived in Žagarė, worked in a farm. In 1944 he was invited to work as a senior director at the Lithuanian Drama Theatre (called Vilnius Drama Theatre till 1947); in 1947-1948 he was an artistic director, managing director and the head of a studio there. He made his most significant plays here: A. Ostrovski’s “Forest”, A. Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard”, M. Gorki’s “Enemies” and “Egor Bulychev”. For “Enemies” he received the USSR State Prize.

Dauguvietis wrote several plays himself: “New Trench”, “A Task”, “A Teacher”, but his most popular play was a comedy “Žaldokynė” that was staged on 19 March, 1948. Directed by Kazimiera Kymantaitė, the play was several times renewed in 1975 and 1985; loved and attended by the audience it still has its place in the repertoire of the Lithuanian State Academic Drama Theatre.

In 1947-1949 he was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR, the chairman of theatre society and dramaturgy department of Writers’ Union.

He died on 13 July, 1949 in Vilnius.

B. Dauguvietis was the first Lithuanian theatre director who developed and fostered Lithuanian original dramaturgy. In 1958 Borisas Dauguvietis’ name award was established; it is given to amateur theatre groups whereas theatre professionals receive a special prize, Borisas Dauguvietis’ “Golden earring”, for original and innovative decisions in theatre art.

Borisas Dauguvietis

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