Miet Warlop. Publicity image

The International Festival of Contemporary Theatre «Homo Novus» will take place for the 15th time in various venues in Riga from September 5 to 13. This year it focuses on works of art that aspire to crack open the surface of reality to discover what’s hidden underneath. Guest directors from Japan and Belgium have created new performances especially for the festival in collaboration with Latvian artists.

Stories Editorial September 6, 2019

Since 1995 the International Festival of Contemporary Theatre «Homo Novus» fills the stages, streets and periphery in Riga. It was founded by the director Pēteris Krilovs and is now led by Gundega Laiviņa. Some of the pieces explore the relationship between theatre and other forms of art, they bring together new and well-known artists. «The 15th festival invites to celebrate the contemporary theatre, to build new worlds together with the artists, experience them with the body, soul and mind, and stand up for the freedom to create, see and communicate about art — the fragile privilege which is neither universal, nor obvious,» the festival director Gundega Laiviņa comments on the program.

The legendary Norwegian troupe from «Verdensteatret» addresses the materiality of objects and theatre space in the play «Hannah», it is a theatre–concert–kinetic installation hybrid. The Japanese artist Tetsuya Umeda brings cans, buckets, plastic bottle and light bulbs to life in «Voice»; he dissociates the objects from their usual utilitarian applications and allows the objects to act on their own. In the Australian theatre company’s «Branch nebula» «High Performance Packing Tape» various objects, devices and unsafe equipment give a hard time to the actor Lee Wilson and subject him to frightening incidents.

An exhibition on theatre space and scenography «1:1» will take place during the festival; in it the students of the Scenography Department of the Art Academy of Latvia explore the never-ending learning process. Four workshops focus on the relationship between the body and materiality, led by «Verdensteatrer», «Branch Nebula», the scenographer Dominic Huber and «contact Gonzo», that take part in the festival with an extreme physical contact performance «Wooden Vandal». The international contemporary theatre and architect installation «HALL07» and «Microcosm» by the French director Philippe Quesne — it was awarded the Grand Prix in the Prague Scenography Quadrennial in the section of countries and regions — will take place in the Festival School in Aristīda Briāna 13.

One of the special festival events this year is the event «Sonic Dawn», curated by Daniel Blanga Gubbay and Gundega Laiviņa and dedicated to the potential of our listening abilities and sound as a political category. Contemporary dance is represented by Ahilan Ratnamohan’s «Klapping» — a collective ritual to learn new movement scores, based on the football culture. The festival will conclude with two pieces by the Flemish artist, scenographer and director Miet Warlop.

The «Homo Novus» festival will take place in event venue «Hanzas perons», concert venue «Tu jau zini kur», RISEBA media centre, Ģertrūde Street Theatre and elsewhere in Riga. The tickets are on sale at «Biļešu Paradīze», many events are free of charge. More information and the full festival program is available on the website.