Two awards each to Baltic theatre groups at 2014 festival

The Baltic Theatre Festival closed Sunday with a performance of the play Onegin. Commentary by the Jaunais Rīgas Teātris (JRT) and the handing out of six awards, including one judged by a jury of children.

This year the festival featured not just the best in original dramatic productions from Lithuania and Estonia, but also a wide-ranging program of award-winning and nominated runners-up productions. The festival shows took place on stages all over Riga and gathered theatre-lovers from all three countries.

This year for the first time a children’s jury gave its ranking to plays meant for the kids’ and youth audiences. Together with critics Liga Ulberts and Atis Rozentals the juvenile drama-lovers worked out their own categories for judging nine plays, parallel to a viewers’ vote, which totaled 473 audience members by the end.

The children presented the play Baltā grāmata (White book) by youth acting troupe Šmulītis with its own specially designed award, as well as a sympathy prize  to Dita Balčus for her show intended more for the tween-teen audience Re:Atmoda.

The adult jury this year had members from all three Baltic states as well as Belgium.

Lithuania’s producers’ group Operomanija won two awards for best libretto as well as for social meaning and sensitivity for its opera production Have a Good Day!, innovatively set amongst consumers, cashiers and their money registers in a supermarket.

Latvia’s JRT won two awards also for its Onegin.Commentary for men’s ensemble cast and scenography.

Renowned Estonian actors’ company NO99 took home two awards too for women’s cast ensemble and powerful direction for its production of NO54 Wednesday.

Daiga Gaismina of Latvian Theatre Workers’ Association said that the festival program performances over the past ten days since it began on October 10 “have caused me to laugh out loud and cry true tears at times, but most of all realize how very important it is for us to have such a festival.”

The festival next year will travel to Tartu, and Gaismina expressed hope that theatre-goers would gather there in just as great a number as Riga’s well-attended events.

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