Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre’s new logo (accepted in 2018) reflects both the history of the theatre and the plans for the future.
The very name of the theatre as a text creates an expressive image.
The letter h is drawn to represent a chair - one of the basic elements of any set design and a mandatory part of an auditorium interior. Extremely simple and austere lines of the lettering can be equally easily carved in a stone, written with a pen or reproduced digitally. This is a timeless foundation, and the grey colour (the quiet and elegant colour of the streets of Riga) re-enforces the feeling of constancy and reliability - and becomes a support for the colour and semantic accent: the green dot – the green letter o. This is a ball.
The ball from Mikhail Chekhov’s acting trainings. The ball that symbolizes movement, dynamism, rhythm, energy as well as aspiration and ability to jump beyond the bounds (also characteristic of Mikhail Chekhov).
The warmer shade of the green colour has been chosen not only for the sake of harmony: the most recognizable plain ball – a tennis ball - today is usually yellowish green/greenish yellow. And the sharpness of the contrast, which is almost annoying, yet not offending to the eye, is a sign of readiness for creative experiments, for pushing its way out of the comfort zone, for development.
Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theater remembers its past, embraces its heritage and strives for new horizons.
In the year of its 135th anniversary, Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre became the first (and so far - the only) theatre in Latvia with its own crest (emblem).
Our Theater is the oldest Russian theater outside Russia, one of the oldest professional theaters in Latvia, the keeper of the traditions of the Russian drama school. It has a long and glorious history, which is unique in many ways and has produced quite a legacy: it is, in fact, sufficiently big and meaningful to express its essence visually. And if our logo is an actual representation of the Theater in the business space, then the crest is a representation in the mythological space.
What the Crest Looks Like
In a black field, golden bees flying upwards; in the middle of the shield there is a silver hive. at the top, the shield is covered with a black and silver plait; above it there is a golden key, horizontally. The shield supporters are two golden lions with silver tongues, standing on a silver ribbon with the motto "ERAT EST ERIT" ("It was there. It is there. It will be there."). The emblem was registered on October 4, 2018.
Why These Images Are Chosen
The Theater is located in the building, which was constructed by order of the joint-stock company "Beehive". This name had been chosen by the merchants according to the old Russian tradition, where bees symbolized life, diligence and frugality and a hive meant a common house. For the Riga Russian Theater, the reference to the beehive and bees is not only historically correct and still symbolically accurate - it also acquires additional meanings: the collective work of all the theater people (actors, directors, artists, technicians, administrators, and so on) on creating and performing of productions. Besides, where there are a hive and bees, there is also honey - a symbol of inspiration, eloquence and poetry - that is spiritual food. The golden key above the crest is that very “key to theatrical magic”, which Mikhail Chekhov had been dreaming of giving to actors all over the world. And the lions, holding the shield, remind us of the supporters of the coat of arms of Riga.
What the Colours mean
Yellow or golden color in heraldry is identified with gold. It is a noble metal, a symbol of wealth and greatness, as well as loyalty, purity and justice. White or silver color means silver, another noble metal, which symbolizes harmony, purity, truthfulness and tolerance. Black color is associated with wisdom, perseverance and constancy.
Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre is the oldest Russian professional theatre outside Russia. It was founded in 1883, and on October, 2, 2018 the company celebrated its 135th anniversary. Located in the heart of old Riga, it enjoys popularity with tourists and is considered one of the sightseeing gems.
The Theatre was fully reconstructed in 2010, and today it is one of the best-equipped venues in Eastern Europe. The stage machinery was provided by SBS Buehnentechnic from Dresden, and this collaboration is still active and fruitful.
The Theatre keeps up the traditions of the Russian theatre as a system. It also engages staging directors and designers from Russia as well as from other countries (Belorussia, Estonia, Lithuania, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Israel and so on). The Latvian creative human resources are most actively involved, too.
As a cultural institution, the Theatre is a state limited liability company, supervised by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, and receives donations from the State budget.
The Theatre also has a unique board of supporters called The Society of Guarantors. This is a group of business owners, providing financial assistance to the Theatre. It is a historical establishment, which is almost as old as the Theatre. It couldn’t function, when Latvia was a part of the USSR, but it was restored in 1998.
Being a repertory theatre with a permanent troupe of actors, the Riga Russian Theatre regularly arranges the opportunity to educate a new generation of performers. The latest group of graduates joined the team in 2014. In 2018 the Theatre also opened a studio for children and teenagers.
The Theatre is proud to be well-liked by patrons both in Latvia and abroad. Its repertory covers Russian, Latvian and world classic as well as young playwrights’ works. On the big and small venues performances of all genres are held, including children's and musical productions. The theatre goes on tours regularly and is quite successful on the festivals’ arena.
All in all, the Theatre harmoniously lives in the cross-cultural space, participates in the cultural dialogue - both nationally and internationally, and implements plans for future development on all the levels.
Till 1883 there was no constant Russian theatre in Riga. Just amateur performances were occasionally held; besides, sometimes small provincial troupes arrived here.
Only in the beginning of the 80-ies of the 19th century the construction of the house of the Russian Craft Artel and the society "Beehive", in which there were auditoriums with stages, was finished. Here was the opportunity to start realizing the idea on regular Russian theatrical performances in Riga (…).
It became possible in 1883, and this year should be considered as the year of the foundation of a constant Russian theatre in Riga.
(from archival materials of 1913)
From day one, the Riga Russian Theatre never ceased to exist, even if it changed names and building or experienced relatively short periods of inactivity due to wars or other outer circumstances. The Theatre has its own story of development, which fully represents the history of Theatre as an art. It gradually moved from an actors’ theatre – with more than 60 almost unrehearsed openings per season, performed a couple of times each, - to a director’s theatre, in which the number of premieres grew much smaller, while the artistic quality of the productions, on the contrary, went up. In the middle of the 20th century, the Theatre staged 7-10 new plays per season.
Historically, its artistic search has been aiming at deep psychological performances and expansion of the frameworks of a drama genre. The Theatre was the first to stage a number of plays, which later became most popular; it also turned to musical performances very early and quite successfully.
Since 1990, Edward Tsekhoval, the former General Manager (till November, 2017), had been inviting many staging directors from Russia and other countries in order to enrich the artistic offer. Since 2000, the Theatre has been having strong creative relations with the Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls; the project “Odessa, That Magical Town...” is one of the most desirable productions and already has an impressive touring experience (Germany, Russia, Israel, USA, and Ukraine).
The Theatre celebrated its 120th anniversary with the joint project with the Edinburgh International Festival and creative collaboration with Peter Stein, a live legend of European theatre.
In September, 2006 the Theatre (previously known as the Riga Russian Drama Theatre) re-claimed its historical name and acquired the right to be called after Mikhail (Michael) Chekhov, giving a tribute of memory to the brilliant actor, director and teacher, who devoted two years of his life to the work in Riga. (In February, 2018, a unique production, dedicated to both Mikhail Chekhov and Latvia’s Centenary, was staged. Its title is “The Keys to Magic”, and it presents a tapestry of facts and legends about Mikhail Chekhov, based on the letters, diaries and other documents.)
In 2010, the Theatre opened the season in the renovated and newly equipped building. Soon after that, in 2012, it brought to stage the legendary figure of Oscar Strok, “the king of tango”, born in Latvia. A production, based on his music and life story, has been being the Theatre’s calling card since then.
Usually, the Theatre presents 6-7 new productions on its big stage every season, carefully balancing authors and genres for an optimal diversity. Among the viewers, 42% are native Latvians, and since the Theatre provides surtitles in Latvian for the productions in main the hall, this number is growing steadily.
Since January, 2018, when Dana Bjork, a producer and actress, became the new Genarlal Manager and Member of the Board, the management structure of the Theatre has been being changed, and the strategy and tactics had been being re-evaluated and modified by the new managing team. In October, 2018, the Theatre engaged a new artistic director - Sergey Golomazov.
The reconstruction in 2008-2010:
THE SOCIETY OF GUARANTORS OF MIKHAIL CHEKHOV RIGA RUSSIAN THEATRE
From the first year of its existence, the Russian theater faced a number of difficulties, common to any undertaking, and one of the most persistent problems was a shortage of funds.
Representatives of the Russian public appealed to the Livonian governor Zinoviev with a request for the financing of the Russian theater from the Russian treasury - a logical request, given that Riga was at that time a Russian city. Zinoviev agreed with this logic and, by his order, the Riga City Council began to assign 5000 rubles to the Theater annually, and appointed a special committee to oversee the spending. The fruits of this generosity were not long in coming: successful productions, interest of the audiences, good fame...
In 1901, the Committee was transformed into the Managing Authoriuty of the Russian Theater in Riga, consisting of representatives of Russian public institutions, Riga City Council representatives of the guarantors. That year should be considered the foundation year of the Society of Guarantors - despite the fact that the corresponding name appeared only in 1906, when the Managing Authoriuty of the Russian Theater in Riga became the Society of the Guarantors of the Russian Theater in Riga. Its main task was not so much to control as to ensure the permanent existence of the Russian theater in Riga. Thanks to the City Council and the Society of Guarantors, the initial amount of funding quadrupled, and the Theater flourished, becoming one of the best in Russia.
However, the First World War intervened in the course of things, and from 1915 in Riga there was actually no Russian theater nor its guarantors. However, in 1921, the Latvian government, taking into account the multinational character of Riga, allocated 150000 rubles a year “to support the theaters of national minorities - German, Jewish, Russian”; and in 1923 the Society resumed its work.
In 1940, after Latvia became a part of the USSR, the Theater acquired the status of a public theatre and naturally lost any support from private individuals and entrepreneurs. The idea of reviving the Society of Guarantors emerged in 1998 - and was successfully implemented.
THE LIST OF THE GUARANTORS:
The future film and theater actor, teacher and director was born on the 16 (28) of August, 1891 in St. Petersburg.
His father, Alexander Chekhov, Anton's elder brother, was a writer. In 1888 Alexander lost his first wife, and in 1889 he married the governess of his children, Natalia Golden, who became Mikhail's motherl.
Anton Chekhov himself was among those, who admired the multi-talented boy - in one of his letters he wrote about four-year-old Mikhail, "I think he will make a talented person."
In 1907 M.Chehov enrolled in a drama school, where he "with great inborn abilities had a very great success, performing comic and character parts".
After graduation he was accepted in the troupe of A.Suvorin Theatre, where he played many parts. In St. Petersburg Mikhail was introduced to Konstantin Stanislavsky, who invited him to the Moscow Art Theatre, and in a few months M.Chehov was already actively engaged in the 1st Studio of the Moscow Art Theater, which originated in 1912 as a kind of theatrical laboratory.
In 1913 Mikhail started his film career: he played Mikhail Romanov in the film "The tercentenary Of the Reign Of the Romanovs," later followed by other parts in silent films.
In 1914 Mikhail secretly married Olga Knipper-Chekhov's niece, Ollga Knipper, later a well-known actress in Germany.
Despite his successes in the seasons of 1914-1916 , both on stage and in film, Chekhov was in a gloomy mood and felt unwell. In May 1917 he left the rehearsal of "The Seagull" (starring Konstantin) and sent to Stanislavski a letter, explaining the outbreak of hus nervous disease. In autumn the work on the production started again, but Chekhov still wasn't well. He divorced his wife and got interested in philosophy. Then suicide of his cousin, V.Chehov, made it impossible for Mikhail to returm to the part of Konstantin Treplyov.
In January 1918 M.Chehov opened a private acting studio in his apartment. This work was the best cure for Mikhail's depression.
In June 1918 Chekhov married K. Ziller.
In 1919 in the journal "Horn" Chekhov's theoretical articles were published: "On Stanislavsky's System" and "An Actor's Self-Work".
In March 1922 the premiere of "Eric XIV" by A.Strindberg, directed by Eugeny Vakhtangov, shocked the theatrical world of Moscow - in the first place thanks to Mikhail Chekhov's performance. In October yet another triumph followed: "Perhaps for the first time in all those eight decade "The Government Inspector" has finally revealed the very Khlestakov, about whom Gogol had written".
In general, this year was extremely busy, yet fruitful. Also in 1922 M. Chekhov came to Riga for the first time with guest performances of "Twelfth Night", "Eric XIV", "A Cricket On the Hearth". They played in Riga, Tallinn, in the cities of Germany (where Chekhov met his first wife), Prague and Brno. Upon returning to Moscow Chekhov became a leader of the First Studio.
In August 1924 the First Studio was named MAT 2. On November, 17 was after a public rehearsal of "Hamlet" Lunacharsky presented Chekhov a letter, awarding hin the title of an Honored Artist of the state academic theaters.
The best works of that period in the MAT 2 were associated with the names of Mikhail Chekhov and Eugeny Vakhtangov. Despite the success (or perhaps because of it) there was a split in the theatre collective: some actors were dissatisfied with the direction, in which the theatre developed. Because of this, Chekhov in 1927 was forced to abandon proposals to perform with the troupe of the Stanislavsky Theater during their trip to America. The conflict was resolved with dismissal of several actors and theater staff,but it left an unpleasant aftertaste to all the participants, nevertheless. To avoid such "ideological disputes" in the future, M.Chehov, at the suggestion of the People's Commissariat, replaced the collegial management of the theater with his solo management, establishing the position of a deputy director for financial and administrative matters and an artistic and production part. But the former unity of the theater was gone.
In 1927 Chekhov played his most significant film part in the production of "A Man From the Restaurant" after the novel by I.Shmelyov. In 1928 his book "The Way Of an Actor" was met with great interest and approval. But all this success, apparently, could not balance the sorrows ofa heavy atmosphere at the theater. In March Mikhail resigned, but the meeting did not support his statement. In May Chekhov sought permission for a two-month stay abroad for health treatment. From Germany he sent a request for an annual vacation abroad.
In autumn 1928 Chekhovconcluded a contract with M. Reinhardt and played his first rpart abroad - a clown in the play "Artists" by G. Watters and A. Hopkins.
In Germany M.A.Chehov starred in several films, played with Reinhardt, as a director was rehearsing "Twelfth Night " - and the success exceeded all expectations: the newspapers talk about him as a director of a European scale.
In 1930 Chekhov was trying to get grants for the organization of the theater in Czechoslovakia, but he was refused. He moved to Paris, entering into several contracts in Germany to work in theater and film-making spheres. To the Paris press he spoke about his intention to organize a School of Dramatic Art..
In 1931 in Paris an association of "Chekhov Theatre" was founded.
In April 1931 Mikhail Chekhov went on tour, during which he visited Riga and Dvinsk and Mitava.
In spite of the Paris premieres, Chekhov felt no satisfaction - he was looking for "new theater" (and could not find it) . This quest led him to Riga for the third time.
After the talks with the director of the Riga Russian Drama Theater (now - Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre ), on February, 28, 1932, M.Chehov arrived in Riga - and, according to him, that was the beginning of his "period of good luck'': the success foloowed him in all his projects, he was happy among his friends, students and grateful audience. And he left an incredibly significant imprint not only in the memory of contemporaries, but also, apparently, in the heart of the city. His personality and skills provoked great interest, and Chekhov won the support not only among the theater folk, but also in literary circles, as many writers at the time acted as theater critics. The huge amount of work seemed to only inspire Chekhov: he, as he thought, had found what he wanted - the opportunity to create a "new theater".
Janis Karklinsh, a critic who became a friend of Mikhail's, in his memoirs quotes Chekhov's interview with the Latvian press, "Great nations crumble under the outcome of materialism and lust for power. The revival of art comes through the small nations". The cultural context of Latvia in the early 30's was the best ground for "real art", according to Chekhov. In his opinion, in Germany and France they treated are as a "pretty cheap kind of entertainment", while "new art" could only be born in a country, where there were a new world and plans for cultural renewal.
In 1932 Mikhail Chekhov staged five performances in Riga, in which at the same time he also performed. However, Chekhov came to Riga with the intention to open a drama school - and this intention was also fulfilled.
One can say that Mikhail Chekhov laid the foundation for professional training of actors in Latvia: despite the availability of study courses, a number of teachers and studios, there were not enough qualified teachers. Many lacked the knowledge on the theory of acting. Then came Chekhov with his idea, which were so fascinating to the actors, that they organized a special campaign in order to financially support the existence of the school.
This good time ended in 1934 due to administrative difficulties, encountered when getting the resolution on the continued presence in the independent Republic of Latvia, and so Chekhov returned to Paris.
In 1935 he went on tour in New York, received an offer to stay in the United States, but chose to accept another offer - to organize his own theater-studioin England. In 1936-1938 his studio in Dartington Hall was active, and all the projects were successful, but the proximity of Europe, which was already full of war apprehension, forced Chekhov, along with most of the Studio, to move to the U.S.
In early 1939 "Chekhov's Theatre" settled in Ridgefield, about 50 miles from New York. In 1940-1941 new pproductons were prepared. However, in 1942 it was decided to temporarily close the "theatrical company" because of the war.
In 1944-46 Chekhov starred in many films; for his performance in the movie "Spellbound" he was was nominated for "Oscar" Award and the Award of the Society of the Box Office, "Blue Ribbon".
In 1946 Mikhail Chekhov announced an opening of "Actors Workshop". Among his students there were G.Peck, M. Monroe, Y.Brynner. In the same year the book "An Actor's Technique" was published in Russian. In 1952 it was published in English, too.
Mikhail Chekhov died in Beverly Hills (California) on September, 30, 1955; the urn with his ashes was buried at Forest Lawn Memoria Cemetery in Hollywood.
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Phone: +371 20 37 25 13; +371 67 22 53 95