Viesturs Kairiss

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borderline experience, imagination, marginalisation, mysticism, transformation
Film (feature film)
Performing Arts (theatre)
Europe, Baltic
created on:
May 29, 2003
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Today and Here. He is.

The other dimension beside the reality.

In spite of his relatively short career, Viesturs Kairiss has already been hailed by audience and critics alike as one of the Baltic States’ finest directors. His work covers a range of performing arts genres – including theatre, opera and cinema. Since the success of his film “Pa ce-am aizejot” he has decided to concentrate on film-making.
In describing himself and his work, Viesturs Kairiss says the following: “I have a diploma where, under “speciality”, it says “theatre and film director.” And that’s what I am…..not making the theatre which is…isolated from society but developing performances which could address the society and today very directly.”
This approach to performing arts has clearly been appreciated by audiences and critics alike. They have hailed him one of the Baltic States’ finest directors. It has also resulted in a number of prizes and awards including:
Best Theatre director of Latvia 1998-9
National Music Award 2000 for staging the opera Eugene Onegin
National Film Award 2001 for Pa ce-am aizejot
Spidola Award 2001 for achievement in the arts.
Born in Latvia in 1971 Viesturs grew up and was educated while the country was still under Soviet jurisdiction. He entered the world of work shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Latvia was struggling to emerge as a nation in its own right. Latvia’s attempts to reclaim its history and culture and define its place in modern Europe have greatly influenced Viesturs’ work.
In his portrait of the director Edile Tisheizere (I studijai 2001) notes that joy and humour are common threads in his productions. Viesturs himself has identified “the other dimension beside the reality” and “extreme characters in extreme situations” as recurring themes. To that end he has directed, among others, Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot”, Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin” and “Stone Guest” and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”.
Veisturs’ goal that his productions should be a “challenge to myself, to actors, and to the audience; every performance a debut” led him to break away from the National Theatre in Riga in 2002. He found the conditions imposed by a state theatre still dealing with the legacy of Soviet control too restricting. He has instead, along with producer Leva Priedrena and his wife and artist Leva Jurjane formed an independent theatre company, “United intimacy.” The company’s first production, Inga Abele’s “Jasmine” premiered in May 2003.
“Jasmine” is structured around a few significant days in the main character’s life. During this short time Jasmine’s mother arrives with a mysterious stranger with whom Jasmine falls in love, just as her house is repossessed by the bank in order to pay off her husband’s debts.
A whole gallery of delightfully eccentric characters contribute the chaos of their own lives to that of Jasmine’s. Each of them is searching for something, but no-one is quite sure what.
The performance is a richly textured combination of contemporary musical and Latvian folklore, exploring themes common throughout human history.
“Jasmine” forms the beginning of the cycle of performances “Books”.
Viesturs has not only worked Latvia. He has also presented productions in Copenhagen, Lisbon, Helsinki, Vienna, London and Stockholm where he contributed to “Hotel Europa.”
Nor has Viesturs confined his career to stage. He has also directed several films, including “The Train” (documentary) “The Wedding” (feature) and “Pa ce-am aizejot” (Leaving by the Way) (feature).
“The Wedding” won best actor (Andris Keiss) and best feature film in the Latvian National Film Festival in 2000.
His latest film, “Leaving by the Way” won the National Film Award in 2001 and has attracted interest throughout Europe.
The storyline picks up a theme common in Viesturs’ theatre productions – that of the other dimension beside reality:
Nine year-old Dauka believes his father is still alive because his mother can’t bear to tell him he has drowned. Dauka’s mother is having an affair with a married man whose postmistress wife is also a practising witch. However, her attempts to prevent her husband’s infidelity with magic are unsuccessful. Matters come to a head at a village party and Dauka learns the truth about his father,
Following the success of “Leaving by the Way” Viesturs has decided to focus on his film career in the immediate future. He is currently planning a screen adaptation of Inga Abele’s play “Dark Deer”. The manuscript has been described as “inhabiting the territory between Strindberg and Checkov on coke.”
Yet again it is the story of a dramatic relationship set in an isolated community, this time between a fourteen year-old “wild child” and a herd of deer.
Judging by Viesturs Kairiss’ directoral track record this and his future projects bode well.
To quote Edite Tisheizere (ibid) “Where exactly is Viesturs Kairiss’ place in theatre? Everywhere. Nowhere. Here. He is.”
Author: Annika Salomonsson


Viesturs Kairiss was born in Latvia in 1970 and has already been declared one of the finest Baltic stage directors.
Viesturs Kairiss work as director covers many regions of the performing arts , theatre , opera and cinema.



Production / Performance,

The Magic Flute

Production / Performance,
Opera staged at The National Opera of Latvia


Production / Performance,

Dark Deer

Production / Performance,

The Serpent

Production / Performance,

Hotel Europa

Production / Performance,
dramturgy by Goran Stefanovski, Eastern European Theatre Collaboration produced by Intercult

Eugene Onegin

Production / Performance,

The Idiot

Production / Performance,

Taylo´s Day in Silmaci

Production / Performance,


Spidola Award 2001- Award from The Culture Foundation of Latvia
2001- National Theatre Award for "Margareta"
2001-Award from Latvian Contemporary Drama festival for "Margareta"
2001- Best Film Award for "Leaving by the way"
2000- National Film Award for the short film"The Wedding"
2000-National Music Award for the staging of the opera"Eugene Onegin"
1999- Theatre Award for Best Director in Latvia
1998- Award from The Ministry of Culture of latvia for the short film " The Train"


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Hotel Europa

(01 October 99 - 31 December 00)


Latvian Film website

Latvian Literature website