DR Please tell us who you are.
CN I am a television journalist … with a masters degree in theatre. I also made a movie about the founding director of the theatre sponsoring the Almada Festival, the eponymous Joaquin Benite Theatre. The film is called in English “It is Not Enough to Say No”.
DR I understand that at first you attended the Almada Festival because you had been assigned to cover it but then you continued to come every year purely for your own enjoyment. Is that so?
CN: Yes. In 1996 I worked for the radio, and they told me to come every day (to file a report). That is when I met Joaquim Benite – he knew what he wanted: to do theatre for everyone. That doesn’t mean that everyone is going to like it. What he wants is to bring everyone to the theatre. Especially workers. And as Rodrigo (Rodrigo Francisco, the artistic director of the theatre who took it over from Benite) can explain to you much better than I can, that is one of the reasons he came to this side of the river (the Tagus). He began in Lisbon. He came here in Almada (on the southern side of the Tagus estuary; Lisbon is south of the river) because of its factories and industry. So he took the theatre to the workers. He made theatre there, in the factory, in the place where the workers were working. He was very political. He was buried with a Communist Party flag on his coffin.
I got to know the company. I did that reporting for two years. In 2000, I began to work as a television journalist and I never went back for work. Now I come every year to see the shows.
DR What is the importance of the festival to you, now that you are present as an audience member and not as a reporter?
CN Of all the festivals in Portugal, this is the most significant. It brings major companies to Almada. As a member of the audience I want to know what is being done in Europe. And I don’t have the opportunity to go to Paris or to Italy or London every month, so this is the opportunity. I want to see the new dramaturgy but also the old directors … I’d love to have even more, Africa, a little more from South America, and Asia. But I understand it’s expensive and it’s difficult to bring them.
And it is also emotional. Each year I have friends and I meet them here for eight days in a row in this kind of environment that you have been witnessing and feeling.