Directing in Latvia

Oscar Wilde and Aspazija: Fin-de-Siècle Contemporaries

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)


In 1991, together with Bartlett, Rubess co-directed Aspazija's Vengeance (literally: The Avenging Woman) for Latvia's first independent theatre company, the Kabata Theatre.  Aspazija's play, written in 1888,  is a melodrama about Latvian peasants rebelling against their oppression by German barons. In the Bartlett/Rubess version, the play became a nightmare, dreamt by people yearning for freedom. The show was rehearsed in a city barricaded against the Soviet military, with an ensemble mourning those recently slain by special forces in a nearby park.The production was honored with the Latvian Drama Critics Award and toured to the Berkeley Stage in Toronto.



Photogallery - Waiting for Godot



”The direction by Baņuta Rubess is remarkably precise and considered. [..] The director lets the play’s rather lengthy opening develop in the fantastically beautiful environment created with set designer Gints Gabrāns and costume designer Liene Bartkeviča, an environment to be studied and savored piece by piece..[..] One must think that Baņuta Rubess‘ work with the actors was gigantic, tearing them away from their ideas of what is “high society’, how to play comedy and what suffering means on stage… The best way to describe the acting is to call it swift and business-like.[..] This is the show that could change the archaic ideas regarding comedy which exist in the Latvian theatre – on both sides of the stage. [..]Baņutas Rubess’ production leaves nothing unconsidered.“
Edīte Tišheizere, Kursas Laiks, for Diena. December 19, 2002.


"Watching this production-mystery, in which each character dreams their own revenge play, a thought gripped me like an incubus - this game of self-destruction, this swamp in which they all sink, pulling us the AUDIENCE along with them, this game will never end, even when the play is over. „Why?" I asked myself. Is the suffering of these people, tortured by their own egoism - is it mine, too?

The people working in the theatre (this ensemble,which created VENGEANCE) - these people are happy because they want to ask questions, are able to ask questions, and know how to ask questions to which they don't know the answers. To relate your deepest secrets, to reveal your own happiness and your crimes - that is courage and pleasure. I have to admit, I'm jealous of their happiness.
Normunds Naumanis, Sestdiena, May 25 1991.

"The image of a nightmare gives Latvian writer Aspazija's THE AVENGING WOMAN [VENGEANCE] a strong emotional unity. The work also possesses the haunting power of an excursion into dreams of passion and vengeance.
... splendid theatre, thanks to a series of strong performances by the Latvian actors, a design that emphasizes candlelight and red walls that echo the hot emotions of the text... This kind of drama - as fine as anything that Toronto audiences have seen as part of international festivals such as the World Stage - makes it clear that drama isn't dependent solely on spoken language."
Jon Kaplan, Now, July 18-24, 1991.