Baņuta Rubess - CV

I am a director and writer with over 40 productions. I've taught practical and academic courses in theatre at the University of Toronto since 2011. I recently finished a memoir called Up from Under, and in 2016, presented #7Love, a devised piece of verbatim theatre, at the Paddock Tavern in Toronto. Upcoming: the a cappella opera, Sweat, by Juliet Palmer and Anna Chatterton, produced by Bicycle Opera.



Often I direct my own writing. Below are selected works I've directed by other authors, in various genres.


#7Love, verbatim dance theatre, devised with Julia Aplin and others, Theatre Froth, at The Paddock Tavern, Toronto. Summerworks Festival 2016.

Boots, a 20 minute opera by Juliet Palmer. Presented by Urbanvessel and Opera Peepshow, at Campbell House, 2016.

At the Centre for Drama, University of Toronto, 2011-2015.

Katie of Heilbronn: An Obsession by Mr. Heinrich von Kleist

You are Invited to the Cast Party After the Production Formally Known as Mrs. Dalloway

The Rules by Charles Mee

The Possibilities by Howard Barker 

The Gypsy Wife, collaborative creation based on a song by Leonard Cohen, the Banff Centre and the Tarragon Theatre, Canada, 2008. Workshop at Canadian Stage, May 2010.

Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, KIT Theatre and Meduza Productions, Riga, 2010-2011.

The Snow Queen, children's drama with string quartet, composer Patrick Cardy, New Riga Theatre. Running in repertory since 2008.

The Birds' Opera, Latvian National Opera, Riga, 2001-2007; returned to repertory 2009 and 2015. Nominated for Best Production Childrens Theatre. Available on DVD with subtitles.

Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Daile Theatre, Riga, 2008-2009.

Nigredo Hotel, chamber opera, composer Nic Gotham/writer Ann-Marie MacDonald. Tapestry New Opera Works, with the Tarragon Theatre, Toronto, 1992. Tour to Great Britain, 1993.  Cross-Canada tour, 1995.  Nominated for eight Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Second production on the 25th anniversary of Tapestry, Toronto, 2005.

Opera to Go I and II, fifteen minute operas, Tapestry New Opera WorksToronto, 2002 and 2004.

Possible Worlds by John Mighton, New Riga Theatre, Riga, 2004.

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, Liepaja Theatre, 2002-2004. Best Director Award.

Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, New Riga Theatre, Riga, 2000-2003.

 Orfeo and Euridice, by C.W. Gluck, the Latvian National Opera, Riga, 2000.

Rondo, an adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde, a site-specific production for five separate audiences, New Riga Theatre, Riga, 1999-2002.


From 1987-1999, over a dozen productions directed in theatres across Canada;  several national and international tours; radio drama.  Selected productions:

Wedding Day at the Cromagnons by Wajdi Mouawad, Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa and Theatre Passe Muraille.

The Stillborn Lover by Timothy Findley, Theatre Passe Muraille. Nominated for six Dora awards, including Outstanding Production and Outstanding Direction.

The Avenging Woman by Aspazija, co-directed with Neil Bartlett, at the Kabata theatre in Riga; tour to Berkeley Stage, Toronto. Winner of the PBLA Arts Award. Latvian Critics' Award.

Goodnight, Desdemona by Ann-Marie MacDonald, the premiere production, Nightwood Theatre, Toronto. Tour across Canada.


1992-1996 Associate Artist, Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto

Duties included:  directing;  planning the season;  script development;  fundraising;  marketing decisions; liaison with the Board. 


Ongoing: Director/dramaturge of workshops of new scripts

For: Urbanvessel, Soulpepper, The Music Gallery, Nightwood Theatre, Crow's Theatre, Theatre Columbus, Theatre Direct, Theatre Passe Muraille, Tapestry New Opera Works, Tangled Art & Disability, Toronto;  Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa;  Playwrights' Workshop, Montreal.



Mrs. Benjamin. Tips for Modern Living. In Latvian. A solo performance in three rooms of a hotel, devised with the actress. Riga, 2009-present. Tour to USA, 2011.

Escape from Troy. In Latvian. An adaptation of The Trojan Women combined with the oral history of World War Two refugees. Produced on a beach for the European festival SEAS by the New Theatre Institute, 2004. DVD with subtitles, broadcast on Latvian National Television.

Oh Pilot. Chamber opera. Composer Nic Gotham. World Stage Festival, Toronto, 2005;  Latvian National Opera Studio, Riga, 2007; Pasvalys music festival, Kaunas 2009. DVD. Radio play version, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Toronto, 1996.

Fruits of the Earth. New music theatre in five languages on the themes of cooking and childbirth. Composer Nic Gotham. Performed by the Latvian Radio Choir and the Riga Saxophone Quartet, at the Latvian National Opera, Riga, 2003. CD, produced by Radiatori Inc. 

Head in a Bag. A political comedy. Produced by Theatre Passe Muraille, 1992. Published by Exile Editions, Toronto, 1996.

No. Here comes Ulrike Meinhof and Oblivion.The Story of Isabelle Eberhardt, radio plays written and produced for a series of my own devising, Adventure Stories for (Big) Girls, CBC Radio Canada, 1990-1992. I commissioned and dramaturged several other scripts for the series. Published in ed. Ann Jansen, Adventures for (Big) Girls, Blizzard Publishing, Winnipeg,1993.

Boom, Baby, Boom! A jazz play. Du Maurier World Stage Festival, Toronto,. Nominated for a Dora Award, Outstanding Production. Published by Canadian Theatre Review, and in The CTR Anthology, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1993, as well as Exile Editions, 1996.

Horror High. A multi-media teen drama.Theatre Direct, Toronto. 1989. Nominated for a Dora Award, Outstanding Production in Children's Theatre. Excerpt in Acting Out: Scenes and Monologues from Theatre Direct Productions for Youth. Ed. Lynda Hill. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2006.

This is for you, Anna, a spectacle of revenge. Created collectively with Ann-Marie MacDonald, Maureen White and Suzanne Odette Khuri, produced by Nightwood Theatre and toured across Canada and the UK. Nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Innovation in Theatre. Published by Canadian Theatre Review and The CTR Anthology, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1993.



WRITER/PLAYS (directed by others)

Thin Ice. A teen drama, co-written with Beverley Cooper. Premiere produced by Theatre Direct, Toronto, 1987; subsequent productions across Canada and in Latvia. Winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Theatre for Young Audiences and the Chalmers Children's Play Award. Excerpts published in anthologies, 1997 and 2006.

Pope Joan, a comedy, produced by Nightwood Theatre, Toronto. Nominated for the Chalmers Canadian Play Award. Published in New Canadian Drama 6, Borealis Press, Ottawa, 1993.

Smoke Damage: A Story of the Witch Hunts. Produced by Nightwood Theatre, Toronto,.  Published by Playwrights' Canada, Toronto, and Exile Editions, Toronto, 1995. 

Playwright-in-residence for Nightwood Theatre, the Great Canadian Theatre Centre, Theatre Direct and others.




I write in both English and Latvian.


“Why I’m Going to the Women’s March”, in Latvian, special to the magazine IR, Riga, Latvia, January 18, 2017.

Review of Theatre, Teens, Sex Ed: Are We There Yet? by Jan Selman for ‘Letters in Canada 2015’, University of Toronto Quarterly  2017.

Up from Under: Saxophones Don't Burn. A memoir.

Labie Draugi: Nopērc kādu! [Good Friends: Buy One!]. A novel for teens. Published in Latvian translation by Zvaigzne, Riga, 2011, under the pseudonym BNR.1.

"The Search for Alternatives in Latvian Theatre 1991-2004: A Creators' Notebook," for a book edited by Diana Manole and Vessela Warner, Performing Freedom. 

"So Weird and So Awesome:  Rachel Maddow, Rhodes Scholar '95",, 2009.

"Mīla-vīla" (Fooled by Love),  an analysis of Rainis and Aspazija, published in Robežas (Borders), in Latvian and English, editor Vita Matīss, Neputns, Riga, 2006.

"Kicking with Poetry," monograph on the politics of two female playwrights, eds.  Marcel Cornis-Pope, John Neubauer, History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe. Junctures and disjunctures in the 19th and 20th centuries, Volume I, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Virginia Commonwealth University / University of Amsterdam, 2004.

An opinion column and feature articles for the national newspaper Diena, Latvia, 1999-2006.

Articles in Theatrum, Fireweed, Canadian Theatre Review, Literary Review of Canada.




2011 - present. Visiting and Sessional Lecturer at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Toronto, Canada. Courses include:

  • UC One Engaging Toronto: Performing the City
  • DRM 268 Canadian Theatre History
  • DRM 411 Movement for Theatre
  • DRM 386 Performance and Reality: Contemporary Theatre of the Nineties and the Noughts
  • DRM 400 Performance II: Acting Skills for the Contemporary Stage
  • DRM 400 Devising Theatre
  • DRM 403 Performance III: The Resource Show



Oher teaching: 

Workshops: Embodying Reality, FOOT conference 2016; Cracking Movement Theatre with choreographer Julia Aplin.

Guest Lecturer, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

Experimental Playwriting at the Latvian Academy of Culture, Riga.

Introductory Drama course at Glendon College, York University, Toronto, Canada.

Seminars, lectures and workshops at the universities of Toronto, York, Winnipeg, Simon Fraser, Queen's, Canada; University of Dusseldorf, Germany;  University of Alaska, USA.

Topics: Acting; Playwriting;  Directing;  Improvisation;  Collective Creation;  Theatre History.




Embodying Reality and Verbatim Methodology. A workshop at the Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT), University of Toronto, Feb 6, 2016.

Post-show talk, "Building The Anna Project," Hart House Theatre, March 5, 2015.

Keynote video lecture, "Creativity during a Crisis," Subject: Creativity, a conference in Liepāja, Latvia, February 20, 2015.

Lecture, "You're Invited: Performing Mrs. Dalloway," 24th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, North Illinois University, June 5-8, 2014.

Colloquium, "Boom, Baby, Boom," with Martin Julien, Centre for Drama, University of Toronto, April 1, 2014.

Lecture, "Devising Truth: the Role of Theatre in Post-Soviet Latvia," After the Wall. Graduate

Centre for the Study of Drama, University of Toronto,  November 19-21, 2009.

"One Red Chair", lecture on set design, Theatre by Design: Scenography in Canada.  Graduate

Centre for the Study of Drama, University of Toronto, January 24-25, 2003.




Dora Mavor Moore Awards Jury

Riga City Arts Council.

Latvian Cultural Capital Foundation Theatre Committee.

Toronto Arts Council Board of Directors, Theatre Committee Chair.




D.Phil. in Modern History, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, England.

I am one of the first dozen female Rhodes Scholars.


B.A. (Hons.), First Class, History and Drama, Queen's University, Kingston.

Queen's University Anniversary Scholarship, Susan Near Drama Prize, History Prize



Workshops with Marie-Josee Chartier (Movement), Richard Armstrong (Voice), Robert McKee (Screenwriting), Joseph Chaikin (Beckett), Wolfgang Kolneder (Cabaret), Yoshi Oida (Physical Theatre), Victoria Santa Cruz (Rhythm), Oleg Tabakov (Chekhov), Institutet for Scenkonst (Barba).

I am a member of the Canadian Actors Equity Association.

I lived in Toronto until 1998, when I moved to Latvia. I have been back in Canada since 2012. I am a widow with two grown children.

Languages:  English/German/French/Latvian/basic Russian/elementary Hindi.