Every great director needs his or her own theater, and this was the dream of one of the fathers of Latvian theater and the founder of the Daile Theater (1920) Eduards Smiļģis (1886-1966). It was him who insisted that the new theater building must be built on Brīvības Street 75 (then called Lenin Street), and helped architect and interior designer Marta Staņa (1913-1972) win the tender for the building’s design in 1959.
This building is seen as one of the most prominent cultural construction projects from the mid-20th century, and is an excellent example of modernism architecture from the Soviet era. The new Daile Theater building was unveiled on October 30, 1977, but unfortunately neither the building’s architect nor Smiļģis himself lived to see this day. At the moment, the Daile Theater is the largest in Latvia, featuring three stages. The building’s basement is even used as a special playground for theater. During the theater season, the building has a working café inside, but during the summer season the Epikūra Dārzs cafe is open for business in the building’s courtyard.
Eduards Smiļģis was one of the most famous Latvian directors of his era, whose productions were performed outside of Latvia as well. At his theater, 20th century modernism trends were performed, especially symbolism and expressionism. Much attention was paid to how actors spoke and moved, as well as lighting and musical parity. As a local joke points out: “Smiļģis can stage anything, even a phone book”.