Directing in Latvia

Waiting for Godot

by Samuel Beckett

directed by Baņuta Rubess

With Latvia's first stand-up comedian, Jānis Skutelis, in the role of Estragon

 

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Mrs. Benjamin. Tips for Modern Living.

A one-woman show with music and a stroll

Text devised and directed by Baņuta Rubess
Played by Indra Burkovska
Produced by the Support for Music and Art Fund


Izrādes afiša

This is the rags-to-riches story of Emilija Benjamins (1881-1941), newspaper and magazine publisher, a fashion maven with a nose for bestselling authors.  Together with her husband Antons Benjamins, she built an empire in Latvia, defying wars, revolutions and dictatorships, until she was deported by the Soviet regime and perished in Siberia.  

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Oscar Wilde and Aspazija: Fin-de-Siècle Contemporaries

AN IDEAL HUSBAND

by Oscar Wilde

Rubess created a hilarious version of Oscar Wilde's AN IDEAL HUSBAND, re-visioning this comedy of corruption and politics by placing the events into a contemporary setting. The story begins at a political fund-raising event and ends in the anteroom of a television news studio.

The set, designed by artist Gints Gabrāns, was entirely inflatable, able able to move forward in space and suddenly, spectacularly, deflate.

The production was honored for Best Direction at the Liepāja Theatre.

 

Ideāls vīrs

 

 

VENGEANCE

Directed by Baņuta Rubess in 2005/ directed with Neil Bartlett in 1991

Written by Aspazija

 

Aspazija is a Latvian feminist playwright, ahead of her times. Rubess and Neil Bartlett toured a radical and collectively directed version of Aspazija's revolutionary play THE SILVER VEIL in 1982 across England, Europe and North America. They re-joined forces again in 1991, during Latvia's peaceful revolution.

Rubess later directed a newlversion of THE SILVER VEIL at the New Riga Theatre in 2005. She has written about Aspazija in the anthology BORDERS.


Sidraba šķidrauts

Acclaimed actress Guna Zariņa in The Silver Veil (2005)

 

 

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The New Riga Theatre

Baņuta Rubess has directed 5 productions at The New Riga Theatre.

 

RONDO

Directed by Baņuta Rubess

Based on La Ronde by Arthus Schnitzler

Text by Andra Neiburga

Designed by Kristaps Ģelzis with Dace Džeriņa

Music by Nic Gotham

 

Rondo

 

On arrival in Riga, Alvis invited Rubess to do anything she wanted - a rare opportunity for any creator!  The result was the ground-breaking RONDO, based on the play LA RONDE by Arthur Schnitzler.  This site-specific production played to packed audiences from 1999 to 2001.   Sex was the prism through which Rubess dissected  the socio-political shifts in Latvian society..  The text was created via re-improvising the scenes with the actors, inspiring the writer, Andra Neiburga, to create a brand-new dialogue.  At that time in Latvia, the idea of creating productions via improvisations and using contemporary Latvian on stage was brand new and highly unusual.  The audience was separated into 5 groups and each scene in the play was performed five times in different parts of the theatre, from the cloakroom to a toilet.

 

TOP GIRLS

Directed by Baņuta Rubess

Written by Caryl Churchill

Translated/devised by Lauris Gundars

Set design by Dace Džeriņa

Costume design by Kristīne Jurjāne

 

Zelta Meitenes

 

The dramatic economic changes in post-Soviet Latvia gave a paricular urgency to this production of TOP GIRLS by Caryl Churchill.  The rapacious values of Thatcherite England were too much admired, and Churchill's anger and class analysis was a necessary tonic as a yawning gap opened up among those Latvians with money - and everyone else.  The feminist themes of the play - performed in the context of a solidly patriarchal society -  were suprisingly fresh and strong. This play about feminism and class difference electrified the audience, though critics sniffed at its political tenor.  The show ran for three seasons until the lead actress (who won an award for her performance) became pregnant.

 

 

POSSIBLE WORLDS

Directed by Baņuta Rubess

Written by John Mighton

Translated by Ingus Josts

Set design by Dace Džeriņa

Costume design by Kristīne Jurjāne

 

POSSIBLE WORLDS is part murder mystery, part science-fiction, and part love story.  A dead man with a brain missing leads two detectives to search for the murderer. Award-winning playwright John Mighton is a mathematician and philosopher, and by exploring the possibility of parallel worlds, he also explored the possibility of parallel love stories. Rubess played out Mighton's speculations in a completely black-and-white set - the colour of a dead brain, until the very last scene which entered the colorful world of the imagination.

 

Other productions at the New Riga Theatre -  THE SILVER VEIL, by Aspazija and THE SNOW QUEEN, as adapted by Canadian composer Patrick Cardy.

Photogallery - Rondo

Photogallery - Possible Worlds

Reviews

This eccentric collage says much more about one person’s destiny and the frailty of life than a large-scale chronological biographical portrait. Undine Adamaite, Diena, April 2009

POSSIBLE WORLDS:

“I’d call it ambient theatre. A shadow theatre in which the shadows (the actors on stage) are mirror projections of our (the audience’s) intellectual capacity. [..]
One thing though – Possible Worlds is a production with a pronounced aftertaste. The production’s black-and-white, cool, ”disgustingly” perfect, calculated world is both seductive and repellent.“ Normunds Naumanis Diena June 4, 2003.

“Personally for me, watching the show, I wasn’t able to even approach understanding as to what this post-modern fantasy is about. Later, reading the information in the newspaper, I was interested to discover that it was a show about the possibility of an extracted brain to enter archetypical figures.. or something like that. So I still don’t understand – who to blame, me or the theatre…“ Silvija Radzobe, Diena, 19.06.2003.

"The director B. Rubess continues to surprise us with her consistency– bringing exotic models of theatrical expression into the Latvian theatre landscape [..] as an experimental work with an original and strange, creepily anti-human atmosphere it deserves only praise. As in a silent room of mirrors.’ Normunds Naumanis Diena, 19.06.2003.

About RONDO:

"Rondo is not cynical for a single moemnt. If every Latvian has one daina [a Latvian folk song], then parhaps this could be Baņuta Rubess‘ naughty daina? Vital, lively, a dance of the flesh organized in a purely French freedom of spirit. Without existentially paralysing feelings.” U. Adamaite, Diena, 12.04.2000.

"The director Baņuta Rubess, in my opinion, has sacrificed her political opinions in the name of harsh truth– with an untypical lack of emotion (for her), she documents this era in Latvia. That’s what we are like. Users. Slightly alive…
One thing is perfectly clear – this formally complicated production is a valuable school for the JRT ensemble and with pleasure one has to admit that our master pedagogues in theatre technique, Mihails Gruzdovs, Pēteris Krilovs have been joined by another strict ”specialist“- Baņuta Rubesa. [..] Rondo JRT - like the work of Kubrick and Mendes -- demonstrates that just like water can relieve thirst and crumble cliffs, wine inebriates or leaves a hangover. It all depends on the user.“ N. Naumanis Diena, 3.04.2000

“This production fascinated me with its intonation: intellect + wit, wisdom + silliness, irony + self-deprecation. Probably the Rondo experience can work or not work. That of course is too big a fault for Rondo to be considered artistically perfect. But sometimes I just feel like slightly deforming the professional crieria for the good of pure human enjoyment. Like this time. I liked it.” U.Adamaite, Diena, 9.05.2000.,

About TOP GIRLS:

"The dramatic and social aspects of the successfully adapted play is emotional and current, thanks to the dialogue of S.Kļaviņa and G.Zariņas in the last scene. Two worlds, two truths, parallel lives. In one time. Ours.” L. Dzene, 28.05.2001

“Socially current (in our country at this time), shallow, but this little play in its feminist sauce makes you think… 5 stars to S. Klavina for making the main “bitch’ a human being. Striking costumes by K. Jurjāne.” Henrieta Švāne, Diena, 28.05.2001