The Arriaga Theater in Bilbao hosts this Monday, the gala for the delivery of the XXIV Max Awards for the Performing Arts, in which the Segovian company Nao D’Amores starts as one of the favorites to monopolize four of the main awards, including the Best Show, for ‘Nise, the tragedy of Inés Castro’. Days before, ABC scratched a few minutes at the complicated agenda of its director, Ana Zamora, to review with her the successful trajectory of this company, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year.
—Nao D’Amores takes part in these Max Awards as one of the favorites to win awards.
—I have as a rule neither to get excited when good things happen, nor to despair when bad things happen, because this theater thing is a constant up and down, and one can end up absolutely schizophrenic. I always like to see things from a distance and not lose perspective of who we are and where we are going. One of Nao D’Amores secrets is that she has never claimed to be more than she already is. What we have achieved is almost a milestone in the history of this country. Very few companies can remain stable artistic teams, being able to decide and carry out what they want to do, with whom they want and how they want. We already have that great prize. On the other hand, I am not going to deny that it is a luxury to have your work recognized.
– What do you think ‘Nise, the tragedy of Inés Castro’ contributes to the current scene that is being so highly valued?
—On the one hand, the element of originality. You don’t see Renaissance tragedies every day. On the other, there are many ways of doing classical theater, and ours is to try to be consistent with what emanates from the texts. ‘Nise’ has a very serious work on verse, forms, music … A lot of elements that make up a clockwork machine that transports the viewer to a space that they recognize as their own but that is not theirs. And then there is an extra component, which I did not know how to foresee, which is that in this country the myth of Inés de Castro, the Spanish woman murdered in the 14th century in Portugal, is still very well known.
—The company turns 20 this year 2021. Did you plan to go that far?
“I’ve never set a goal for myself.” For 20 years we have not had time to stop. This is a crazy job, but not runaway but always well managed. What we did know is that we never wanted to lose coherence about what theater to do and how to do it. I can say that if I look back, I am happy to be where we are right now.
—If you allow me a trip to the past … Why that bet from the beginning for the pre-baroque theater?
“It was very simple and silly at the same time.” When I finished the School of Dramatic Art in 2000, I felt the responsibility to do things that were within the professional field, but that would help me finish my training, and when reviewing classical theater I saw very clearly that the space with which I best identified it was the pre-baroque of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Perhaps because I come from a family of ancient philologists and it was the natural way to find an artistic manifestation. I was fortunate then to run into people, who are now members of the company, who already worked in that line, and then generate a crush on the part of people of my generation with what I had had as a gift since I was a child. We rolled up our sleeves and saw that this was only the tip of the iceberg and that it was an inexhaustible source. There really is a wonderful heritage that is not archaeological matter, but purely theatrical matter connected with the current viewer.
—In front of producing and producing, he ‘cooks’ his assemblies over low heat, with hours of research, training … Don’t you think of it differently?
-No. I feel with a huge responsibility for the starting material. Academics do it from philological research, but we are the ones who discover it to the general public as dramatic material and we cannot allow ourselves to stage something that we do not know. And on the other hand, because maybe deep down it is the part that I am most passionate about.
—Music and verse are fundamental pieces in your theater. Can’t understand one without the other?
-Absolutely; and classical theater cannot be understood without joining that duality. They are ways of sound expression that have to go hand in hand. But for that you have to go deeply into it and be lucky enough to have two extraordinary professionals who are in charge of that work with me, such as Alicia Lázaro and Vicente Fuertes.
“Any secret to keeping a stable team for so long?”
—The secret is to find people as crazy as you, capable of giving their lives to such a Martian thing as the Middle Ages and the Renaissance from an absolute sincerity because it starts from a passion for that material. And then turn that passion into a good coexistence, in a family where the professional and the personal are intertwined.
—The day came when, as a family, they decided to settle in Segovia. Why?
—First, because it is a question of ethics for the people who are from outside the capital. I do not understand why people who have grown up in the provinces have to deny who we are. I studied in Madrid, I was trained at the School of Dramatic Art and I worked at the Abadía Theater and at the National Classical Theater Company, but it seemed to me that the most natural thing was to return to the society to which I belonged. Therefore, it is also a commitment to decentralization that is up to those of us who know what decentralization is. And also, there is something important in the creation processes that have to do with the space where they are born. Our works, due to their contact with the popular, with that certain still rural thing, are closer to the people than to that much more standard theatrical panorama that we see in the big capitals.
—They ‘check’ their productions with the neighbors of Revenga, where they rehearse.
“It seems essential to me.” With ‘Nise’, before going to the Abbey Theater for the official premiere, we opened the doors to the townspeople with the show half done. If it works like this, finished it will be done by force. I need to have that collation before taking it to a more anonymous audience that surely lives with much less intensity what we propose. We make a theater that many consider to be an intellectual elite, but nothing is further from reality.
—They recently premiered ‘Retablillo de Don Cristóbal’, where they return to the puppets. Allowing them?
—Being raised around Titirimundi has opened our eyes to other types of languages. It gives us a freshness and a way of approaching theater that I was not taught at the School of Dramatic Art. But I always force myself not to use them if it is not essential because it is very sweet. In the ‘Retablillo’ they are not used as a resource; It is a journey to the meaning of the blackjack puppet questioning what Lorca does and how he gets to us.
—And again, that determination to ‘dive’ in the most unknown, in this case, in that facet of Lorca.
—Maybe I am a specialist in approaching that part of the authors that does not interest so much at first glance. This is risky because the less conventional your starting point, the less so is your resolution. Still, I prefer to get into spaces that have to be explored, machete in hand. The passion of discovering what others have not yet seen is an absolute joy. It is like picking up a book with the leaves still uncut.