What has director Olgerts Kroders given us? / Script

Director, actor, performing arts educator and long aristocrat Olgerts Kroders was born in 1921 into a very theater-loving family – his father was theater critic Robert Kroders and his mother was actress Herta Wulff.

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Kroder spent his childhood in a very democratic and artistic environment, but unfortunately during the deportations in June 1941, when the director was 19, his family was deported to Siberia. He spends 15 years in deportation and then lives his hatred of all forms of violence all his life. Returning, Kroders writes theater reviews and begins working as an assistant to director Eduards Smiļģis at the Daile Theater.

In 1959, he made his debut as a director, staging Jānis Kalniņš’s play “On Fire” at the Liepāja Theater. Kroder completes Higher Directing courses at the Theater Institute in Moscow, but does not obtain a higher education in theater. For most of his professional life he has been associated with three theaters – Liepāja (director from 1959 to 1964 and from 1974 to 1989), National (director from 1990 to 1995) and Valmiera (director from 1964 to 1974 and from 2001 to 2012). Kroders has also staged performances at Daile, Youth and Russian Drama Theaters, as well as starred in several films of the Riga Film Studio, including an episodic role in Rolands Kalniņš’s legendary film “Breathe Deeply”. In the 1990s, Kroders has also played two roles in Alvis Hermanis’ performances at the New Riga Theater – Don Pablo AB Valjeho in “Flaming Darkness” and Sorina Chekhov in “Kaija”.

In all theaters, Kroders forms a theater of like-minded people, in which the director’s relations with the actors are equal and democratic.

The director makes the role of actors much more important in the rehearsal process, stimulating their initiative and wanting to see an actor “from whom I also got something in return”. Actor Jānis Zariņš, later Indra Briķe, also Ieva Puķe and others become Kroders.

Croder gains scandalous popularity by staging Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in 1966, because something completely new and unprecedented in the theater is happening in the show – the young lovers come together on stage with bare-bodied bodies.

Kroder tried to make the characters from Shakespeare, Schiller, Ibsen and Chekhov and other dramatic classics contemporaries, and he was particularly interested in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, which he has staged four times in various theaters during his life. In 2009, Mārtiņš Eihe and Krista Burāne made the documentary “Fifth Hamlet” about these productions. Kroders has also written an autobiographical novel “Trying to Be Open” about his experience in Siberia, which is considered to be a unique text in the Latvian Gulag literary tradition.

Kroders spends the rest of his life at the Valmiera Drama Theater not only as a director, but also as a permanent resident, living in one of the rooms near the actors’ make-up halls.

Kroders has also sold his entire impressive book collection to the Valmiera Theater for one lats.

Kroders died in 2012, and in his honor in Valmiera, near the theater, an art object “Kroders apple tree” created by artists Aivars Vilipsōns and Ivars Miķelsons has been installed. After the director’s eternity, on Olgerts’ Name Day, on January 20, the “Kroder Prize” is presented every year, which was received in the first year by Indra Briķe – an actress who has performed in his performances for 20 years. A theater criticism portal has also been created Kroders.lvnamed in honor of Olgerts Kroder and his father – theater critic Robert Kroder.


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