Alvis Hermanis

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Alvis Hermanis
Nestroy 2010 (27) Alvis Hermanis.jpg
Alvis Hermanis

Riga, Latvia
OccupationTheatre director

Alvis Hermanis is a Latvian theatre director, set designer and actor. Since 1997 he has worked at the New Riga Theatre (Latvian: Jaunais Rīgas teātris) as artistic director.

Early life and education[edit]

Hermanis was born in Riga and in his early teens he played hockey in Dinamo Riga sports school. He was forced to leave sport at the age of 15 due to health reasons.[citation needed] He obtained his first theatre and stage experience when he attended Riga pantomime studio under Roberts Ligers. From 1981 until 1982 Hermanis attended the Riga Peoples artist studio. He continued his education from 1984 until 1988 in the theatre department of Latvian State conservatory.


As an actor, Hermanis appeared in several feature films in the late 1980s.

Aside from at the New Riga Theatre, Hermanis has directed several plays in Austria, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and elsewhere, and a number of New Riga Theatre plays have toured the whole of Europe.

In 2003, Hermanis directed Nikolai Gogols The Government Inspector at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, which won the Young Director's Award. This success paved his way for a long-lasting career in German-speaking theatre, starting in Frankfurt and at the Ruhrtriennale, then in Berlin, Zürich and Vienna. He has frequently worked at the Burgtheater, Austria's national theatre, where he presented Arthur Schnitzler's Das weite Land [de] in 2011 and a new version of Gogol's The Government Inspector in 2015.

Around 2009 Hermanis adapted eight of Vasily Shukshin's short stories for stage in a collaboration with the Theatre of Nations in Moscow, entitled Shukshin's Stories (or Shukhsin's Tales). As of 2021 it is still touring the world, and has won several awards.[1] Starring Evgeny Mironov, the play was staged at The Barbican in London in October 2019.[2][3][4]

Hermanis' Il trovatore at the Salzburg Festival, 2014

Since 2012, Hermanis has also directed and created sets for opera productions – first being invited by the Salzburg Festival to stage Bernd Alois Zimmermann's Die Soldaten conducted by Ingo Metzmacher. The following year, again in Salzburg, Hermanis presented Harrison Birtwistle's opera Gawain.

In 2014 he was responsible for a production of Il trovatore with Anna Netrebko, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Francesco Meli and Plácido Domingo. Hermanis transformed the Great Festival Hall into a gigantic museum with moving walls and the singers into museum custodians and personalities from the paintings shown.

In 2015 Hermanis cancelled a production with the Thalia Theater planned for spring 2016. In a statement, he also mentioned the theatre's position as a "Refugees Welcome Center" as one of the reasons.[5][6]

Awards and recognition[edit]

For his role in Fotogrāfija ar sievieti un mežakuili [lv] he received the Best Actor Award at the Lielais Kristaps festival in 1987.

In 2003, Hermanis and his theatre won the Young Director's Award at the Salzburg Festival with Nikolai Gogols The Government Inspector.

In 2007 Hermanis refused to receive the Order of the Three Stars from the hands of the president Valdis Zatlers. He eventually received it in 2012, when Zatlers had already left office.

In 2012 Swiss culture magazine du surveyed theatre experts from 20 different countries and included Hermanis on the list of the ten most influential European theatre personalities of the past decade.[7]


  1. ^ Arutyunyan, Ani (7 July 2021). "BWW Review: Gorbachev at The State Theatre Of Nations". Retrieved 13 December 2021. The production runs from October, 2020. Next dates: 8 sept 2021
  2. ^ "Shukshin's Stories - Theatre of Nations". Russian Art + Culture. 16 October 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  3. ^ Billington, Michael (8 October 2019). "Shukshin's Stories review – moving tales of Siberian village folk". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Theatre review: Shukshin's Stories at Barbican Theatre". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  5. ^ Villiger Heilig, Barbara (4 December 2015). "Eine Absage und ein Shitstorm". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Hermanis leaves Hamburg theater over German refugee policies". Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Photo album of stills from Alvis Hermanis' plays published in English". Retrieved 17 February 2020.

External links[edit]