Homo Novus 2013


Marking the 10th anniversary of Homo Novus, we have gathered 11 Latvian artists from various genres for a production of new small scale performances, installations or actions. These works will be based in the British theatre scholar Alan Read’s theory of “theatre as the last human venue” and structured as an event, unified in time and space.

In his book ‘Theatre, Intimacy and Engagement’, Alan Read writes: “The last human venue marks the location and moment of human beings’ awareness of their own eventual extinction. Performance, on the contrary, explores ways in which performance operates as an exciter of sentience, kick-starting our sense of being alive, acting as a pleasurable lengthening of device to extend our inevitable faith. Humans in this venue distinguish themselves from other animals through their experiencing of an extended childhood, in their ability to sustain a controlled, unbroken outward breath and by their unique capacity to aesthetically disappoint.”

‘The Last Human Venue’ programme includes performances by theatre directors Pēteris Krilovs, Vladislavs Nastavševs and Valters Sīlis, and the exhibition by directors Andrejs Jarovojs, Viesturs Meikšāns, set designers Monika Pormale, Izoldes Cēsniece, Reinis Suhanovs, fashion designers MAREUNROL’S and artistic collectives Nomadi and umka.lv.

Lost Gardens

Umpfenbach, Neiburga, Bekic, Zajančkauska
3, 4, 6, 7 September 18:30-21:30 | Gardens / Departure from Strēlnieku square | 7 and 5* Ls

The documentary theatre project „Lost Gardens“ relates to a specific place and a concrete event in Riga’s recent past. In May 2013, a lane was cut through the allotment gardens in Bolderāja to free up the space for railway tracks as a part of the Riga Free Port development plan. Gardeners lost their gardens, fences were knocked down, trees were cut, garden houses were burned down or were demolished by bulldozers. The traumatic event had a big impact on the lives of these gardeners, who after spending every summer there, now have no place to go. Many of them started 40 years ago as young families to cultivate this area from being a swamp into the place in which trees, fruits and vegetables could grow and flowers would bloom.

In „Lost Gardens“, the audience will be taken to the original location of the allotement gardens. The protagonists will be the displaced gardeners and a representative from Riga Free Port, who will explain their perspectives on what had happened and recalling the event through their point of view. In contrasting the different interests on the same area, the theatre project draws a connection between local and global interests.

Asja bought her garden 30 years ago for her father in order to help keep him busy and give him a purpose in life. After his death, she continued to maintain the garden to help her relax. One day, she returned to the garden to find it had been burned to the ground. She wrote to the Free Port authority asking for explanations as to why she was not given notice of the demolition.

Anatolijs and his wife grew fruits and vegetables in their garden so they never had the need to go to the market to buy fresh products. He and his wife stood there watching his fruit trees being cut down. Together with his granddaughter Liza he explains how his garden house was relocated by a crane to an area 30 meters away from the original location.

Kostja, a sailor, loved his garden house. This house was used as a place for friends and family to celebrate with music, food and drinks. He talks about the oak tree he planted in 1976 when his son was 2 years old and the shock when the tree was uprooted 40 years later.

Gaida, who would visit her garden every day after work to relax by working in the garden, swimming and fishing in the nearby river. Now she does not know what to do with her free time after her garden was destroyed.

About artist

Christine Umpfenbach from Munich, works as a freelance director. She studied set design at the Kunsthochschule Weißensee in Berlin and then directing at Goldsmiths’ College in London. She makes documentary theatre that engages social realities, focusing on migration, labour and the city. Each project is based on intensive research. The performers are mostly non-actors, people engaged in other professions, old people, children, refugees. From 2000 to 2002 she and Antje Wenningmann, under the name C&A, directed the theatre of homeless persons, Ratten 07, in Volksbühne Berlin. She produced ‘Let’s go West 2003’ with residents of Wismar who lost their jobs after German reunification, the theatrical bus ride ‘Endstation West’ dealing with migration in Munich, and the ‘Win-Place-Show’ with former pupils of secondary schools. Since 2006 she has been involved in several city projects of the Münchner Kammerspiele. Recently, she works in Freiburg with priests from different religions.

Combining documental materials with fiction, Latvian artist Katrīna Neiburga creates stories based on personal experience, in which, alongside such unique categories as solitude or love, it is possible to find indications both to the woman’s social role structures and cultural historical references or critical commentaries on modern society. The artist wonderfully expresses herself through video which, supplemented by specifically elaborated sound material, results in an amazing and sensitive intonation of narration. She is interested in the lives of people, such as the peculiar community of tea mushroom growers, block housing inhabitants, girls met at nightclub bathrooms, women that work as taxi drivers. Katrīna has exhibited her works in Sidney and Moscow biennale, has been a candidate for Ars Fennica art prize (2008) and is the Purvītis Art Prize winner (2008). She regularly collaborates with the sound artist Andžonis and with the Latvian National Opera as scenographer and video artist.

Austrian artist and scenographer Rudolf Bekic has been living in Latvia for many years, contributing to the local cultural scene with neat, functional and precise set and exhibition designs. Hidden from the public eye in his workshop, is Rudolf’s handmade objects and mechanisms, resembling his own view of the world and art.

Zane Zajančkauska is an Latvian editor, curator, producer and a researcher of communities and different cultural phenomena. She is director’s assistant in ‘Lost Gardens’, researching the small garden culture and helping in communication with the locals.


Author and director: Christine Umpfenbach
Co-authors and performers: Asja Andrejeva, Konstantīns Barkovs, Anatolijs Bistrovs, Elizabete Bistrova, Zenta Naļivaiko, Gaida Petriņa, Ņina and Anatolijs Beļakovi
Video artist: Katrīna Neiburga
Scenographer: Rudolf Bekic
Dramaturg: Zane Zajančkauska
Sound artist: Andris Indāns
Video assistant: Zane Raudiņa
Producer: Sandra Lapkovska / New Theatre Institute of Latvia

3, 4, 6, 7



Open air performance

7 and 5*



Russian and Latvian


3 h, including the trip to/from the venue


Strēlnieku square

Sold out!

Supported by

* Ticket price for pupils, students, seniors

Suggest performance:

< Back to All Performances