Latvian Amateur Theatre in Great Britain

For Latvians in refugee camps in Germany, life would have been unimaginable without dramatic performances, these helped to make life more tolerable as well as providing entertainment. This desire for drama accompanied Latvians as they moved to more settled locations and, thus, dramatic groups sprang up in larger Latvian communities in Great Britain and gave pleasure to their local area as well as to those further afield by performing plays by both classic and contemporary Latvian authors.

Some groups were short lived and performed for only 2-3 years in the early 1950s until the actors moved on or settled in larger communities: Alsager, Birdingbury, Bitteswell, Derby, Coventry, Corby, Leeds, Nottingham, Leicester, Silsden, Wansford.

The Society of Latvians supported groups in Birmingham, which gave 11 performances between 1950 and 1959, in Bolton which ran from 1948 to 1969, and in Bradford.

The Latvian Welfare Fund also provided support to further groups: London which put on performances from 1950 until 1984; Rochdale was active from 1951 to 1970; Stockport from 1953 until 1965; Wolverhampton from 1959 until 1981 and second group in Bradford. The two Bradford groups were active from 1949 to 1985, and performed a total of 30 plays.

In the 1980s, the activities of theater groups had slowed down, but in the 21st century, the joy of theater and acting has returned to Latvians in Britain. Several amateur theaters have been established: Bradford Theater Troupe “Saulespuķe” (Sunflower) (run by Gita Robalde), Burton Amateur Theater “Strops” (Beehive) (run by Aivita Skābarniece), Peterborough Amateur Theater “Saime” ( (run by Mārīte Seņkova), Mansfield Drama Group “Klēts” (Barn) (run by Liene Feldmane), Latvian AmateurTtheater Group “Straumēni” (run by Gita Luksa), “Birminghamas Mazais teātris” (Birmingham Small Theater) (run by Ingmārs Čaklais).