WHAT IS HERE?

This is the website for some of my plays.
The word ‘play’, as used here, means a text intended to be performed, one that is capable of compensating for the bitterness that a person has felt, having lost at least an hour and a half of his or her one and only lifetime in a dark theatre auditorium.
Why some, not all of them? Other have not been translated from Latvian. And not every text is still interesting for myself.
Here you will also find a few introductory sentences about my DRAMATICA – a book on mastering the tools of drama.

WHAT IS NOT HERE?

Projects that are currently still inside my head are not here, but they do exist. Ideas. The future.
What you will also not find here is nostalgic preoccupation with the past – a text is born anew every time it is performed.
This is not a reminder to an unfathomably vast world – I, too, am here! Because I am here without this site anyway.*

* ) See CONTACTS

I

Playwright, scriptwriter and director.

Author of 32 plays and adaptations, 14 full-length feature scripts, 2 TV serials, two novels and book on mastering tools for drama DRAMATICA or Rational poetics. Director of 24 theatre stagings.

Head of Lauris Gundars’ Writing Workshop, tutor at numerous European international writing workshops. Creator and leader of Latvian Drama Centre.

Lecturer on drama and communication at Latvian Academy of Arts, RISEBA University and Riga Stradiņš University. Creator of MA playwriting program at Liepājas University.

Host of radio program "THEATRE ATTIC" at State Radio 3 "Classics".

Graduate of Law (Riga), Theatre Directing (Saint-Petersburg) and Scriptwriting (Moscow).

 

II

PLAYS

2018

Cabaret Siberia

2016

The Lover

2015

Lattia

Spring Street

2014

The Same Blood
The Bal

2013

Latvian  Wedding

2012

The Twelfth Day

nominated for National Drama Prize

2011

The Crow Street Republic,

Play of the year 2011 for children and youth

His Heavenly Lucky Village Pottery Workshop,

Antiņš – A Patsy

Awarded at National Theatre play competition.

2010

Trio

The Advent at Silmači, staged simultaneously in Valmiera and Liepaja  theatres,

included into the ETC 2012 list Best European Plays http://www.etc-cte.org/bop_2012/;

nominated for National Drama Prize

Basis

2009

A Time for All Latvians

The Kingdom, musical play

Pret-a-porter

Nipper  Pepper

2004

The Private Report, radio play, the best radio play of the season  2004/2005

2003

Touch  the Polar Bear!

Tiritomba 2 or What Is Going on After the Happy End?

2001

Tiritomba  or The Golden Fish

2000

Whistling  From the Ocean

1999

The Rabbit's Song

Livingstone

The Cheese and the Marmalade

The best entry at Daile Theatre playwriting  competition

1986 - 1996

Nine plays for different Latvian theatres

ADAPTIONS FOR THE STAGE

Hansel and Gretel (based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm) L’Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescout (Based on the novel by Abbé Antoine-François Prévost)
The Duel (Based on the story by Anton Chekhov)

 

1994

Wagner Will Not Return

 

III

FILM SCRIPTS (full length)

2015

Sweet!

Dzinn!

2012

The  Graduation Year

Brussels  2014

2002 - 2008

The Celebration of Life

2000

Never, never, never!...

1999

Brothers in  Arms

The  Handful of bullet

1997

The Guillotine,  based on own novel Footprints on a Glass Hill

 

1990 - 1995

Five full length feature scripts for Latvian and  Lithuanian private film studios, one of them realized - The Duplet

SERIAL SCRIPTS

2003

The Blues of Liepaja (4 episodes 60’ each)

1997

The Sugar House (10  episodes 45' each), The Film of the  Year and prize for The Best Script of the Year

IV

DIRECTED WORK

from 1994

24 theatre performance at Latvia and Estonia theatres (among them). Reza ART , (nominated as the best performance of the season in Latvia  theatres), A. Chekhov's The Duel , twice W. Shakespeare's Hamlet (award for the best directing debut of the season, nominated as the best  performance of the season in Latvia theatres), Art says nothing, Alice says nothing and Ghosts of Mings’ for  young audiences (both awarded as best performance of the season for young  audiences).

V

NOVELS

Footprints on  a Glass Hill

Nipper Pepper – children’s novel

VI

2017

Hallo, Whale! book for children, publisher LIELS UN MAZS 

Jānis Baltvilks prize 2018 (The best text for children of the year)

Published in German and Russian.

2016 

DRAMATICA or Rational poetics; translated and published in English.

2015

DRAMATICA or Rational poetics; 2nd edition

2009

DRAMATICA or Rational poetics; book on mastering tools for drama, 1 st edition (nominated for the  Cultural prize of the year Diena).

 

Wagner Will Not Return

Wagner Will Not Return

GER

Young conductor had started his work in the city. The city is Riga, the year is 1839 and the conductor is unbearable and broke. His name is Wagner, guy who hadn’t yet written anything.
Only play from last century not yet staged. It has received just compliments, not applause. I still am not afraid to reread it.

 

Latvian Wedding

Latvian Wedding

Very serious comedy.
Latvians are speaking with each other only at weddings and funerals. This is wedding story – portrait of my nation. But then I recognized that very many nations are very alike…

 

The Base

The Base

After many years of absence, two brothers come from the city to a remote country village to visit the third brother, Arnold, who still lives in the parents' house.  The brothers have been so keen on forgetting their origins that they cannot even remember who is the oldest…

 

Livingstone

Livingstone

One doesn’t qualify as a Latvian playwright if one has not written ‘about one’s place’! ... I tried, but the theme turned out to be about people. About little people. The play was not intended for puppets, but it was staged with puppets – who suited it marvelously.

 

Tiritomba or Goldfish

Tiritomba or Goldfish

RUS

The play has enjoyed the most performances – a 130 of the same stage version. It is a comedy, of course.

 

The Rabbit’s Song

The Rabbit’s Song

ENG, RUS

A tiny, heartfelt story about the time.
Three members of the rock band meeting after 20 years.

ENG   RUS  

 

L’Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescout

L’Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescout

RUS

Based on the novel by Abbé Antoine - François Prévost

 

Closed Circle

Closed Circle

The most vulgar play in all of Latvian playwriting. It was intended as a challenge, not as  a personal indulgence. The play was created to break free from Soviet restrictions – the motivation understood only later.
Theatre of the absurd.

 

Touch the White Bear!

Touch the White Bear!

An attempt to depict the events of mass deportation of Latvian people. It is not a retrospective view of the past, but an ideological impact on people’s thoughts, fates and personal collisions. The action takes place in Latvia and in Siberia between 1937 – 1957. It is a love story of two 19-year-old people that started during a party in the summer...

 

DRAMATICA or Rational Poetics

DRAMATICA or Rational Poetics

The motto of ‘Dramatica or Rational Poetics’: We tell only stories about people – because we tell them to people. It is exactly for this reason that the first edition of the book (2009.) has already won popularity both among professionals and readers interested in life exploration. ‘Dramatica’ offers an original take on the laws of dramatic texts, emphasising the close link between drama and real life. Based on many years of experience in creative work and teaching, the author of the book Lauris Gundars proposes a distinctive, simple and efficient method of creating characters – particularly useful to playwriting practitioners.

 

The motto of DRAMATICA or Rational Poetics: “We tell only stories about people—because we tell them to people.”

Our main business in life is to study fellow human beings: this is the only way we can find our special place in this universe. Who is he/she? What does he/she think, feel, want? Why does he/she act in this particular way? Why does someone/no one love me? DRAMATICA or Rational Poetics answers these questions in a direct, uncomplicated, and witty manner. Although the title of the book indicates that it is a collection of a playwright’s professional tools, the author, Lauris Gundars, has found a way of speaking that is accessible to anyone interested in people. It is exactly for this reason that the first edition of the book, written in a relaxed and captivating style, has already won popularity among both professionals and readers interested in life exploration. Based on many years of experience in creative work and teaching, Gundars proposes a distinctive, simple, and efficient method of creating characters—particularly useful to practicing playwrights.

REVIEWS

You may find it surprising that a psychology magazine is recommending a book about writing plays. The truth is, the book does not deal just with the rules that form the basis of good playwriting; it also contains lots of interesting things relating to human characters, the motivation and inner logic of people’s actions. After all, to a certain extent, we all create our own life like we would write a play. It should also be mentioned that, despite the serious content, the book makes for a lively read and is even attractively designed.

The Annas’ Pshychology Monthly, December 2016

Lauris’s warmth, curiosity, and deep understanding of dramatic form have been invaluable in each circumstance. And all of these skills are on display in DRAMATICA. The text is accessible and easy to read. It gets right to the point, and the perspective is pragmatic, equipping readers with ideas that they can easily apply to their writing practice. Underneath it all resonates Lauris’s deep knowledge of dramatic history and theory and his wide-ranging experience in the field. The book is a gift to everyone working in the field of dramatic writing.

— Anne G. Morgan
Literary Manager & Dramaturg
Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, USA

DRAMATICA was quick to awaken the enthusiasm that has always been living in me! I did not expect that, once opened, the book will keep me captivated until the small hours. Jam-packed with secret additives, it creates whirlpools of intellectual adventures and emotional discoveries. They do not calm down that quickly, making you notice, live out, and understand the real and made-up dramas around you—now on a completely new level!

— Anda Rožukalne
Associate Professor Riga Stradiņš University
Chair of the Department of Communication Studies

This is not just a workshop— this is a whole solid world that lights up the soul of anyone who wants to make sense of the human being and, while they are at it, write a drama. An excellent springboard for a jump.

— Alexander Chervinsky
Russian/American playwright and scriptwriter

 

DRAMATICA is an excellent way of studying drama and life, and not give up even at times when you feel that you are not getting anywhere. A sort of a good reminder. Besides, it helps understand what it really is that we consume as theater and film spectators—in a very direct manner, without any superfluous bells and whistles. Let us be intelligent!

— Rasa Bugavičute-Pēce
Latvian playwright

A provocative description of the creation of dramatic text—or literary text in general, it surprises both with the prosaic nature of the depicted “creative anguish” and the frequently comical psychological down-to-earth nature of the analyzed dramatic situations.

Diena Annual Award in Culture

There are professions in which talent is the most important thing. It is different with playwriting: skills of the craft are of equal significance here. [...] Gundars discusses dramaturgy in a professional, thorough, interesting and also witty manner. And most importantly, he does that based on a contemporary approach to the subject. [...] Besides, the book is a compelling read!

— Oļģerts Kroders
Theatre director

Introduction I
or About this Text

Even if the author of a text has a perfectly good idea of what they should be writing and why, which is the case in this particular instance, they are nevertheless worried if the reader will eagerly follow their words until the final letter. To make it happen, an introduction of sorts is usually crafted, in which the reasons are laid out as to why the reader actually should begin to pay attention to whatever is said in the text. What is the genre of this work? How do you read it; how do you approach it? Let’s first cover a definition of what the text is not.
This book is neither a guide nor a manual. It’s not a collection of tests, questions, answers,  instructions, formulae, or schemes—and even less a recipe for earning good money with playwriting. While the text does contain bits and pieces of all of the above, it cannot be pigeonholed as one of said genres. But still, how do you describe what this piece is? Who would benefit from reading it and why?
Who? Of course, the reader’s level of life experience and encyclopaedic knowledge may—and does—differ: from a determined enthusiast to an award-winning creative or analytical professional, which is why this book is not intended as a compilation of pure knowledge. The response from the readers of the first Latvian edition of DRAMATICA was quite telling. The author was approached by people from many walks of life—both those seeking professional knowledge and those who had just discovered the unique form of human self-expression that is playwriting (and its surprisingly simple rules). These experiences have helped the author come up with a more clear definition: DRAMATICA is a means, an opportunity, and a tool that almost forces the reader to reflect upon their own existence. What this phenomenon also demonstrates is a certain professional aspect of the matter: an ideal dramatic text is a direct reflection of life itself. And so—whom is DRAMATICA aimed at then? Everyone. Even when the text lists specific instructions on structuring a dramatic text, their intrinsic logic will only enhance the awareness of the life exploration process in a reader who does not have the ambition of turning into a professional dramatist.
Why? Texts dealing with the laws of drama share a common feature: they tend to tackle the foundation of the craft. While some people may find this too simple, even primitive, it is a self-evident, even commendable peculiarity to the informed reader. The specific character of dramatic material demands starting from scratch every time: each new story presumes its own uniqueness, if only for the sole reason that it features a complete new set of people or characters. This, in turn, determines the creation of a one-of-a-kind construction. And yet all dramatic structures do have something in common: they share a set of unconditional laws, the objective existence of which stipulates that the body of dramatic knowledge must be activated, warm, at all times. It is exactly the same as with a sports enthusiast of any level: a once-acquired physical form means nothing if it is not kept up to date through regular training. In a gym we see a fitness fan, an experienced body-builder, and an Olympic champion toiling away at the same exercise machines, and they are motivated by the same goal: I want to be prepared whenever I might need it. In the case of writing drama: I will be prepared at any moment to create/understand a dramatic text that will be something completely new every time. In other words: I am aware of the tools necessary to try to make sense of life itself. Because life is also completely different and completely new every day.
We could use a possibly not too appealing—but very apt—term to describe this creation: a training book. In other words, a text that will teach something entirely new to some people, while providing others with substantiation for things they have long since realized on their own.
Anyone who is seriously interested in anything will always benefit from a repetition of things they already know. Even if they should feel inclined to disagree with any of the postulates of this text, it will only encourage them to work on developing their own dramaticmuscles. Or, in other words, their life-exploration skills. It may seem a somewhat pompous way of putting it, but there is no need for us to be so modest. Let’s get busy!
Similarly, encouraged by the readers of the first edition, the audience, and like-minded professionals, there is a new chapter in this edition called “Workshop.” It contains a set of tools that could be used by those who want to write plays and yet, constantly finding new, mostly trivial excuses, habitually postpone acting on this decision. By the time we get to this chapter, we will have explored the common features shared by all dramatic texts. As for the “Workshop,” it’s worth reading if you are about to start working on an actual piece of playwriting. Sticking with the analogy already used in this preface, “Workshop” could be compared to a sort of fitness instructor who will not let you go too easy on yourself in the gym.

 

Fragment of Dramatica




 

`

Use this address if you wish to work on a project together. Use it even if you still have doubts.

Use this address in all other instances. Even if you want something.