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Martins Vilkarsis

Since 2001, with the production of The youngest brother’s summer at the New Riga Theatre when the stage sky was composed of upside down buckets, Latvian theatre is inconceivable without Martins Vilkarsis.

He graduated from Latvian Academy of Arts majoring in Designer graphics and Scenography. Mārtiņš Vilkārsis considers Aleksandrs Dembo and Andris Freibergs his greatest teachers. Already during his first season he was nominated for the Latvian Theatre Award - Stage Designer of the Year. Over the following ten years, he has received the award five times. Martins has designed and built sets for almost all Latvian theatres (with the exception of Daugavlis and Puppet theatres), as well as for a number of productions in Lithuania, Estonia, Russia and Kazakhstan. He has made sets for very large (i.e. Daugava Sports Stadium) and very small stages. The most famous plays of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Blaumanis and many others have been transferred by Martins to different times. On average he designs ten productions a year.

Martins Vilkarsis is aesthete. He likes exquisite and stylistically pure space. Be it Hedda Gabler’s amber room or many shades of black in Idiot, or the colourful white of Amadeus, or grey as in Orpheus’ Underworld. Or the paintings that come alive in the sets of CV and In Fire.

Martins Vilkarsis speaks in symbols. Romeo and Juliet. Myth main characters love and die in a giant aquarium, in Heirs of Sand the roof of the house flaps its wings, but in the mythical world of Blow the Wind! the tree branches are swaying and waves are breaking against the river bank. Norwegian fiord finds itself in the intimately built small stage, and the chimneys, puffing real smoke, of the old Grizinkalns factory on the big stage. Ophelia’s grave under the carpet of the library.

Martins Vilkarsis likes genuine and fine things: details that can be seen only by the actors and professional techniques that trick the audience.  Swallow’s nest on the wall, a little bird flies over the stage, and trees suddenly lose their tops.

Martins Vilkarsis is a team player. Most of the time he works together with Ilze Vitolina or Anna Heinrihsone, the costume designers and Igor Kapustin or Mārtiņš Feldmanis, lighting designer. From 2001 he has created all sets for Olgerts Kroders’ productions. He has worked with Boris Eifman on a number of ballet productions. Most of this century productions by Dž. Dž. Džilindžers un Rolandas Atkochiunas, as well as a number of Roman Kozak, Indra Roga, Mihails Gruzdovs, Lauris Gundars productions would have not been the same without Martins’ outlook.

He mentioned in an interview that the designer has to become the director’s eyes. A production viewed through Martins Vilkarsis’ eyes is colourful and unpredictable.


Dr. art. Līga Ulberte