Valmiera - the city of theatre in Latvia
Valmiera belongs to the oldest cities of Latvia and is located about 100 km on the north-east from the capital Riga, is one of the oldest towns in Latvia with the population of about 30 000 people.
The first evidence of Valmiera goes back to the 11th century, but the symbols of the town today are the 13th century Lutheran church, called St.Simanis Church, and the ruins of a Livonian Castle.
The industrial and economic life has always been busy along the river Gauja. Today Valmiera is famous for its industrial enterprises - the joint stock company (JSC) "Valmieras stikla šķiedra" that produces glass fibre and JSC "Valpro Corp"- the producer of fuel cans and fire extinquishers. Valmiera has become the educational and cultural centre of Northern Latvia with its Vidzeme University College, that is offering study programs of Public Relations, Political Science, Tourism Management and Information Technologies since 1996. The centre of professional culture of the city is Valmiera Drama Theatre.
Valmiera Drama Theatre
Due to its artistic qualities and strong traditions of performing art as well as openness to new impulses and international contacts, Valmiera Drama Theatre has not only become one of the central axes of Vidzeme professional culture life, but is also considered to be one of the leading theatres in Latvia. Furthermore, step by step the name of Valmiera Theatre appears more often on the international level.
The main facts about Valmiera Drama Theatre:
- Founded in 1923 as a professional repertoire theatre;
- Resettled in the renovated theatre building with three stages at the end of nineties of the 20th century, now one of the most modern playhouses in Latvia;
- Performances on tour at other theatres in Latvia at least four times a year, as well as performances on open-air stages and at culture houses to popularize the name of the theatre and bring the pieces of dramatic art closer to its spectators outside the region;
- The International Theatre Festival of Rudolfs Blaumanis, organized every third year since 1999 during which the plays by Blaumanis, staged abroad and in Latvian theatres, are performed. The winner achieves challenge award - the statuette "Rudolfs" made of bronze. Valmiera Drama Theatre has been the only winner of the festival award of the three festivals organized so far;
- 28 staff actors and 15 contractor actors are employed at Valmiera Drama Theatre;
- Directors Olgerts Kroders, Felikss Deics, Varis Brasla - acknowledged masters of the older generation of Latvian psychological theatre tradition - work on a regular basis at the theatre. The theatre has attracted also the young director Viesturs Meiksans, who is eager to seek for other theatric language and artistic means of expression.
Guest directors from other Latvian theatres and from abroad have also been involved in staging of some performances, e.g. Andres Leppik (Estonia) produced the performance "The Estonian Funeral" (2006) and "Twelfth night" (2009). Latvian actors have participated in the performance of a version of "Cherry Orchard" written by A.Checkov, directed by Frank Hoil (Germany);
The Theatre offers four scenes of different scale:
- two small halls - the Round hall for delicate (exquisite) psychological studies of human relations; the Small hall which favours experimental performances and creative seeking for new means of expression.
- The Large hall - a place where melodramas, comedies and performances for children, which attract large audiences dominate.
- The stage of the Large hall - a recently revealed possibility to be used to place spectators together with the actors allowing them to enjoy the spaciousness and depth (height) of the stage and at the same time preserving the intimacy of the close-ups.
During the last years the theatre has gained appreciation from professional experts and reviewers, as well as attention of the mass media. Since 1996 it has regularly been nominated for Annual Latvian Theatre Awards (more than 66 nominations) and has been awarded 22 prizes during the last decade.