The annual prize at the Players’ Night Theater in 2020 will be presented for the 27th time. From 1998, “Players’ Night” no longer evaluates the best performances and individual achievements in one year, but in one season, but since 1999 the awards ceremony takes place on November 23 – the birthday of director Eduards Smiļģis.
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The “gamblers” included in the title of the prize reflect the legendary show “Let’s Play, Gamblers!”, Performed at the Youth Theater in 1972, based on a poetic composition by Alexander Peters and.
The number of nominations varies slightly from year to year: in 2020 prizes will be awarded in 18 nominations. While several jury models have been tried (for example, a two-tier system where nominees are chosen by one jury member and winners by others), in recent years the nominees and winners have been determined by a professional jury of five people. Throughout the season, judges have been fortunate enough to see more than 100 new productions in state, municipal and independent professional theaters, nominating three to five nominees in each award category.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is also presented annually. The jury has the right to award a special prize for special achievements that do not fall into one of the nomination categories.
The “Players’ Night” award is called the “Stage Nail” and was created by metal artist Juris Gagainis, depicting stage floor planks from which a nail extends like a sprout. In the background of the nail shoot is a triangular mirror as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.
Nails are special to theater people because of the belief that finding a nail on stage brings happiness to everyone, but it certainly brings a new beginning for an actor – a new role and a new chance to prove himself.
Each year prior to the award ceremony, a screening of the nominated productions takes place, with a foreign jury viewing specially selected performances, as well as a scientific conference on a topic relevant to the past theater season. In 2020, experts from Estonia awarded the prize to Walter Sīlis’ performance “The Boy Who Saw in the Dark”.
The very first “Players’ Night” ceremony took place in 1994 at the Riga Latvian Society House, but today the ceremony takes place every year in one of the “big” theaters.
The “Players’ Night” is organized by the Latvian Theater Workers Union, and the annual ceremony is hosted by different theater artists each time – for example, the 2019 ceremony was entrusted to director and actress Marija Bērziņa and actor and playwright Artūrs Dīcis. In 2019, Elmars Senkov’s show “Blow, Winds” triumphed on “Players’ Night”, but in 2020 the show “Boy Who Saw in the Dark” at the National Theater, which is also a clear leader among theaters in terms of the number of nominations, the most nominations. Earning a bill 27 times. The awards ceremony can be viewed live on Latvian television and the portal LSM.lv and can be heard on Latvian radio.
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