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"RĪGAS PANTOMĪMA" (RIGA PANTOMIME) UNDER ROBERTS LIGERS

Having graduated from the Faculty of Theater at the Latvian state Conservatory and joining Dailes Theater as an actor, Roberts Ligers also took on directing an amateur troupe at the Construction Workers’ Cultural Center. Several young people with acting ambitions who had not made it into the Faculty of Theater had formed a sort of experimental drama studio.  Since after a short while a number of them joined Dailes Theater studio, Ligers decided to make his amateur troupe perform in a different genre, synthesizing the spoken word, music, and expressive movement. Born in 1967, "Rīgas Pantomīma" never lost its amateur status while pursuing highly professional goals.  

"Rīgas Pantomīma" was inspired by such outstanding stars of the genre as Marcel Marceau, Ladislav Fialka, Henryk Tomaszewski and others, yet it managed to develop its own artistic vocabulary and manner of expression, gaining international renown among the professionals. From the very first miniatures ("Nopietni joki" (1958), "Ideja" (1961), "Hirosima" (1966), "Smaids" (1967) the troupe rapidly moved to the first full-time production in the Soviet Union, "Ceļš" (1969) based on the poetry of Imants Ziedonis. After that the tone was set by the large-scale philosophical productions "Histrionu mistērija" (1971), "Kurpe" 1974), and "Simfonija" (1975), an interpretation of Imants Kalniņš’s Fourth Symphony that was so popular with young people. The production had only one character, Man, portrayed, with impressive physical stamina and plastic emotionality, by Staņislavs Maļinovskis. The other participants personified the personal world of Man, showing how this or that motivation becomes a priority informing his actions. One critic remarked: "The emotionality of Imants Kalniņš’s music complements the devotedness of the mimes, the attractiveness of their personalities, the unique way in which they perceive the relationships between the characters they portray." (Literatūra un Māksla", 1976, No. 16)

In later years, productions with national themes "Ak tu mana tēvu zeme" (1981), "Tāpēc jau, ka nevar zināt kāpēc" (1983), "Maize"(1986),  were very popular with the public.

In 1975, "Rīgas Pantomīma" went west for the first time, winning a gold medal at the International Youth Friendship Festival in Halle, GermanyGuest performances in Finland, France, Austria, Czechoslovakia, USA, and elsewhere followed. Even though the ensemble never went professional, the quality of their work was never under any doubt. The goal of the actors was always expressing movement and feeling. That could be achieved only by mastering one’s body and perfecting one’s technique and psychophysical expressiveness.

Jānis Siliņš

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