Voices of the dead take over theater stage

Konstantīvs Raudive (1909-1974) was an oddball of Latvian culture. A writer, philosopher, and husband of literary grande dame Zenta Mariņa, he also explored the voices of the dead. He said he was able to contact the spirit world via radiowaves, and he was quite well known among Western explorers of the paranormal following World War II.

Now, Raudive's inquiries into the world of the dead will take over the Dirty Deal Teatro in a séance of voices titled Raudive's Radio, due to premiere March 16.

Konstantīns Raudive–better known to western audiences as Konstantin–has built up quite a bit of online presence. There is no dearth of parapsychology-themed articles probing the phenomenon of Raudive's so-called Electronic Voice Projection, which he fastidiously researched in his late years, the 60s and 70s, which he spent in exile in Germany with his wife Zenta Maruiņa. YouTube has a recording that Raudive made for his 1971 book, Breakthrough. 

Most of the voices in Raudive's recordings are difficult to understand, therefore a woman narrator tells the listener what the voice will say beforehand. At one time Raudive establishes a link with the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and supposedly hears him say his surname. 

Philosopher and playwright Ainārs Kamoliņš was enchanted by Raudive's strange inquiries, and Kamoliņš entrusted the scenario to director Daiga Kažociņa.

She says Raudive's works interest her within the larger context of the revival of parapsychology after World War II, as a large number of people had lost their relatives within a short time:

"[I'm interested] in how they're able to cope, and how this desperation produces ideas that there may be a way... that perhaps somewhere–somewhere else–the spirit of your relative may try to contact the ones left on this earth. In this I see that the will to survive, on the part of humankind, is in a way even stronger than death as they try to win it, to overcome," she says.  

Raudive is portrayed by actor Gatis Gāga, while translator Gita Grīnberga plays his wife Zenta, who was also involved in his research. Gatis Gāga says that, like many others, he was little informed about this part of Raudive's work.

"In this play we try to establish a connection with the other side. That's what Konstantīns tried to do. It's very alluring and mysterious, as no one really knows anything about it.

"But there's no real evidence, so it may be true, or the other way around. It depends on what people are disposed towards, what they believe more. So I think it's one of the most intriguing aspects of this play," says the actor.

Raudives Radio is actually referred to not as a play, but a séance of voices, and therefore there's a special emphasis on the wat it sounds.

"These are voices, without a doubt. But where they're coming from, it's up for you to decide," says sound artist Kaspars Groševs, tasked with creating the audio-visual side with production designer Gints Gabrāns. 

According to Groševs, the play features both recordings by Raudive, and actor's imitations based on his writings. He also offers some insight as to how Raudive made his recordings.

"Raudive turned on the radio on tuned it to some special short waves. He recorded it to a tape, which he then rewound and listened if someone had answered. And that's where the voice recordings often showed up," he says.

Skeptics say these are but fragments of recorded radio broadcasts, so distorted by white noise that anyone can hear what they want. Nevertheless, the artists staging the play invite the audience to decide for themselves.

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