“The Splendours and Miseries of the Schengen Zone” in Four Plays

“The Splendours and Miseries of the Schengen Zone” in Four Plays
Publicity photo . One of the “Splendours and Miseries of the Schengen Zone” performances is an ironical story about the Eurovision song contest
The Latvian National Theatre in collaboration with the “Riga 2014” foundation is working on a series of plays titled “The Splendours and Miseries of the Schengen Zone” – performances staged by four remarkable European theatre artists that look into the pros and cons of the Schengen Area. Stage director Valters Sīlis and playwright Jānis Balodis suggested the concept of the performances, which have been created in co-operation with Europe’s most outstanding young stage directors.

The series of plays opens on the 1st of October with “To Catch RABIT” by German performance artist Julian Hetzel – a story about the borders that we build between countries and people to keep out all that is alien to us. What happens if we have to tear these borders down? What does it mean to observe, or to be observed? The creative group spent one week visiting checkpoints along the eastern border of Latvia to acquaint themselves with the technologies and methods used by the Border Guard to ensure the security of the border.

Director Julian Hetzel has used modern technologies to stage the play as a contemporary multimedia performance.

This performance is undeniably revolutionary for Latvian theatre, as the technologies it employs expand and transform the concept of theatre – and make theatre more attractive to the young generation. The performance is meant for up to ten viewers at a time, and the performance dates are the 1st, 5th, 17th and 30th of October.

“Happiness and Misery” by Márcia Lança will continue the series of performances on the 8th of October. “Happiness and Misery” is an interactive musical performance where each viewer takes part in a game of what it takes to be a citizen of the European Union. During the performance, a new world is created where an immigration affairs department is merged with a casino.

A handful of tokens are given to each person in the audience, which they use to perform various tasks according to an individual scenario – they fill out documents to apply for a passport, marry somebody they do not know just so they could continue playing the game, etc. Eventually, these tasks make the player feel too uncomfortable and vulnerable to continue.

Actors of the National Theatre, pianist Uģis Krišjānis and the Emīls Dārziņš Choir will all have their own parts in the play. The actors will be members of the staff of the department. During every interaction they will alter their routines to make these interactions an “adventure” – some kind of the unpleasant situations that many residents of the European Union encounter on a regular basis. The piano music, the choir singing, and the fact that the play will be performed in the magnificent White Hall of the National Theatre will all contribute to the unique character of the performance. There will only be three such performances.

Lithuanian director Vidas Bareikis has brought the play “Euro Vision” to Riga, which is based on the concept of the Eurovision contest. Latvia has won the Eurovision and now has to host the next competition, even if there is no money available for organising the show. The first contest will be in the New Hall of the National Theatre on the 22nd of October, but it will differ from the other competitions in that representatives from each country will try to be as political as possible. Every song will be about global or local political problems affecting a given country.

Vidas Bareikis and the Lithuanian singer-songwriter Jurga are creating an alternative musical to talk about matters that concern every person in Europe, and try to find out which phenomena and problems all – or most – European countries can agree on.

The “Euro Vision” performance will be on the 22nd, 23rd, 30th of October and the 5th and 22nd of November.

The series of plays will close with the unique one-off performance “Republica”, where the performers together with members of the audience will be establishing a new Republic at the National Theatre. The performance closely follows the process of proclaiming a republic – including the entire preparatory process. On the first two nights, 50 volunteers/viewers will participate in “master classes” held by Latvian experts in various areas (the names of which cannot be disclosed for the time being). During the “classes”, speeches will be written, songs composed, a new flag designed, the hall will be decorated, and a special programme will be prepared for the occasion. Finally, on the third night (the 29th of October), a new country will be proclaimed. The objective is to discuss the principles we would choose now if we were to create a new country, and the needs and functions of such a country. We are very much used to the symbols and concepts of our country ever since the Republic of Latvia was proclaimed, and it would be interesting to see what our country’s symbols, colours and name would be if we could proclaim it again. And the best way to discover that is through this unique performance, which will only be staged once.

The creative team, “Kviss búmm bang” includes three Icelandic artists – Eva Björk Kaaber, Eva Rún Snorradóttir and Vilborg Ólafsdóttir.

Tickets to the “Splendours and Miseries of the Schengen Zone” performances are available at the booking office of the National Theatre and the “Biļešu paradīze” outlets and online shop.
The European Capital of Culture Programme of Riga is prepared and run by the foundation “Riga 2014” in collaboration with state, municipal and non-governmental cultural organisations and creative associations. The Programme is financed by the Riga City Council, Ministry of Culture and the European Commission, and offered to the public in partnership with Lattelecom, which also provides technical support for the Programme.


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