The well-known theatre director Adolf Shapiro was the driving force behind the Latvian Youth Theatre for 30 years. He directed his first play at the age of 23, and immediately won high acclaim from theatre critics and the public. At 25 he was named Artistic Director of two companies—one Russian and one Latvian—which operated in two spaces under his artistic leadership.
Adolf Shapiro has worked extensively abroad. His productions have been seen in many countries, among them Italy, Yugoslavia, Canada, United States, Germany, Columbia, Venezuela, Finland and others. He has won many awards both at home and abroad. Among his most widely acclaimed productions are Peer Gynt by Ibsen, Prince of Homburg by Kleist, The Last Ones by Gorky, a number plays by Alexei Arbuzov, Moliere by Bulgakov, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf by Edward Albee, Brecht's The Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, and Democracy by Joseph Brodsky. Shapiro's reputation rests largely on his interpretations of Chekhov to whose works has returned time and time again in an unceasing analysis.
Shapiro's work is based on the Stanislavsky Method and further theatrical experiments of Brecht and other theatre reformers. He graduated from the Kharkov Theatre Institute where he received his early training. His advanced studies took place at the Theatre Directors' Workshop under the guidance of the legendary teacher and director Maria Knebel, who had in turn studied under Stanislavsky and Mikhail Chekhov. Shapiro regards her as his theatrical and spiritual mentor. After her death he was appointed to her position while also continuing to teach as a professor at the Riga Conservatory, where several generations of students have graduated under his guidance. Many of these students have become leading stage and film actors. Shapiro has also taught workshops at his theatre, which have been attended by number of foreign directors and designers.
Apart from work in his own theatre, Shapiro has directed plays in Moscow (Moscow Art Theatre, Vakhtangov Theatre), St. Petersburg (Bolshoi Drama Theatre), Tallin (Estonia National Theatre), Managu (Teatro Comedia Nacional), Tbilisi, Minsk, Caracas (Ateneum de Caracas), and Warsaw (Ochota Theatre). He has also taught a workshop in Munich (Bavarian National Theatre) a directing course at the Stanislavsky Summer School in Boston USA. His teaching has also taken him to Italy, Poland, Columbia and other countries. As a Master Teacher, Adolf Shapiro has an ongoing relationship with American Repertory Theatre's Institute for Advanced Theatre Studies and Northern Illinois University's School of Theatre and Dance.
Mr. Shapiro writes regularly for newspapers and theatre journals. He has written two books: Entr'acte and When the Curtain Closes, which are devoted to the subjects of acting and directing.
He has served as the President of ASSITEJ, the International Association of Theatre for Young People. At present he serves as President of ASSITEJ Russia.
Adolf Shapiro has worked a great deal for television. A TV version of his production of Nabokov's Waltz Discovery was awarded, the Pris d'or by a unanimous decision of the international jury at the European “Theatre on TV” festival. He has also directed the film “The Victorious Woman.”
His most recent works include the highly acclaimed The Lower Depth by Gorky at the Tabakov theatre and Moliere by Bulgakov at the Moscow Art Theatre. He is currently in rehearsal for Dmitry Krymov's The Auction at Anatoly Vasiliev's School of Dramatic Art and The Cherry Orchard at the Moscow Art Theatre. Mr. Shapiro is also working on a book about Stanislavsky for Vagrius Publishing house.