Asja Lācis

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Asja Lācis
Born (1891-10-19)19 October 1891
Līgatne, Governorate of Livonia, Russian Empire
Died 21 November 1979(1979-11-21)
Riga, Latvian SSR
Occupation actress, theatre director, writer
Genre Epic theatre
Spouse Bernard Reich

Asja Lācis (Russian: Анна 'Ася' Эрнестовна Лацис, Anna 'Asya' Ernestovna Latsis; German: Asja Lazis; October 19, 1891 – November 21, 1979) was a Latvian actress and theatre director.

Biography[edit]

A Bolshevik, in the twenties she became famous for her proletarian theatre troupes for children and agitprop in Soviet Russia and Latvia.

In 1922 she moved to Germany where she got to know Bertolt Brecht and Erwin Piscator, who she introduced to ideas of Vsevolod Meyerhold and Vladimir Mayakovsky.

In 1924 she met the German philosopher and critic Walter Benjamin in Capri, and the duo would have an intermittent affair for the next several years as he visited her in Moscow and Riga. She has been cited as a factor in Benjamin's embracing Marxism.[1]

After being imprisoned for several years in Stalinist Russia she moved to Soviet Latvia in 1948 and spent her old age together with her husband, the German theatre critic Bernhard Reich. 1950 - 57 she was the main director of Valmiera Drama Theatre and used the leftist avantgarde technics in her stage productions. Her daughter Dagmāra Ķimele depicted Asja in her memoirs in 1996 as a selfish and unloving mother.

Lācis' granddaughter is the acclaimed Latvian theatre director Māra Ķimele.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mark Lilla, "The Riddle of Walter Benjamin" in The New York Review of Books, May 25, 1995

Sources[edit]

  • Ingram, Susan (2002). "The Writing of Asja Lacis". New German Critique 86 (86): 159–177. doi:10.2307/3115205. JSTOR 3115205. (via JSTOR)
  • Latsis, Anna (1984). Krasnaia gvozdika: Vospominaniia (in Russian). Riga: Liesma. OCLC 13003307. (memoirs)
  • Ķimele, Dagmāra and Strautmane, Gunta. Asja: režisores Annas Lāces dēkainā dzīve [Asja: The Stormy Life of the director Anna Lāce]. Riga: Likteņstāsti, 1996.