Dailes Theater is a professional Latvian Theater, founded in 1920 in Riga, in the building at 25 Lāčplēša Street that now houses the New Riga Theater. Dailes founder and principal director until the 1965 was Eduards Smiļģis who, in collaboration with the architect Marta Staņa (1913-1972), sponsored a design competition in 1959 that resulted in the building of 75 Brīvības Street, which is a striking example of functionalist 1960s style of architecture. Dailes Theater was the most important building in the architect’s career, although she did not live to see its completion in 1976. Along with Staņa, architects Imants Jākobsons (1934-1993) and Haralds Kanders (1927) worked on the design of the building.
The various parts of the building were differentiated by function and included an extensive amount of large spaces blended into a systematic whole. The theater front consisted of a glass-lined audience lobby that stretches along Brīvības Street. Above this lobby hovers a wall decor, a three-dimensional interpretation of the theater's logo, created by sculptor Ojārs Feldbergs. In the square in front of the building, the dark brick of the vestibule is contrasted by the large surfaces of concrete and glass. Overall, the building is an example of brutal aesthetics.
The large amphitheater has 944 seats; there is also the Small or Chamber Hall. The multi-use stage consists of fifteen smaller (3 x 3 m) planes that can be shifted vertically along the front, and two larger (3 x 9 m) movable planes in the back. In the rear part of the stage there is an extendable, circular platform 14 m in diameter that can turn in the counterclockwise direction with a rotating ring around it. The front part, or the proscenium, is also transformable.
Marta Staņa was a unique personality in Latvian cultural history – an architect, furniture and interior designer. Until 1950, the young woman was an assistant to the protagonist of Latvian functionalism, Professor Ernests Štālbergs, who was on the University architecture faculty. Along with other modernist architects, she fought against the Stalinist retrospective styles and was forced to leave the university. Staņa found employment at a fishermen’s collective in Zvejniekciems, where she had more chance of escaping the close supervision by party functionaries; her projects there included the cultural center, school, and residential buildings.
Staņa worked as a teacher at the Riga Applied Arts College and the Latvian Academy of Art, where she was one of the founders of the Interior Design section. Many of the furniture and interior ensembles meant for the small Soviet apartments were created in conjunction with textile artist Erna Rubene.
"Dear Marta, I have always been fascinated by your large ambition, but all the same, you were a simple person with good sense." Those are the words of architect Aleksandrs Birzenieks, spoken at his colleague's memorial exhibition. Staņa’s authority in the world of architecture was the famous Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer (1907). Both architects share a love for innovation, organic spaces, and artistic freedom.