Photo: Marshall Stay

The Latvian Theatre Award ceremony, held at Dailes Theatre in Riga on Thursday, 23 November 2023, unfolded into an evening of theatrical splendour as “Malleus Maleficarum. The New Pact” took centre stage. Masterfully directed by CPPM alumna Iveta Pole, the production earned widespread acclaim, clinching the title of the year’s best and setting a new benchmark in big-scale physical performance.

Iveta Pole, an esteemed Latvian performance artist and actor, embarked on a transformative journey during her studies at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre’s CPPM program from 2019 to 2021. Here, Pole developed a deep interest in contemporary physical performance, leading to the inception of “Malleus Maleficarum”. Inspired by the theme of feminine energy and its often misunderstood dimensions, Pole envisioned a production that explored these complex dynamics.

Drawing from Heinrich Kramer’s medieval treatise “Malleus Maleficarum” or “The Witch’s Hammer”, Pole and her creative team sought to challenge and reinterpret the historical perception of women as inherently dangerous. The production delves into a pre-labelled era of feminine energy, questioning its role and potential in the past and future.

Pole describes the production as an emotional and heart-centred journey, emphasising the importance of approaching it beyond mere intellectual analysis. She highlights the natural flow and primal energy embodied in the show, likening it to being in the womb or a flowing river.

The cast, including CPPM alumni Martina Georgina from Malta and Lea Blau from Croatia, is part of this artistic exploration. Show participant Katrīna Neiburga reflects on the production’s uniqueness, focusing on feminine energy rather than women per se. Lea Blau, another participant, shares her experience of working in a predominantly female creative team, highlighting the dynamic and sometimes explosive energy this brought to the process.

Spectators and critics have praised the show for its courage, self-irony, and exploration of deep-seated themes. Theatre critic Tom Chever commends the play for addressing significant issues beyond gender. In contrast, Henrietta Verhoustynska, another critic, acknowledges the powerful sense of sisterhood and primal connection to the earth experienced during the performance.

“Malleus Maleficarum” is a testament to Iveta Pole’s visionary direction and the collaborative spirit fostered by the CPPM. This production marks a significant achievement in Latvian theatre and sets a high standard for future productions, inspiring artists and audiences with its innovative approach and exploration of deep-rooted themes.



Baltics News. (2023, June 6). Witches and Feminine Energy in the Play “Malleus Maleficarum: The New Contract”. Baltics News.

Photo: Marshall Stay