Nahuel Cano lives and works between Buenos Aires and Amsterdam, he is an actor, theatre-maker, and an autodidact sound experimenter. Jānis Balodis is from Riga, and has been working in theatre professionally as playwright, dramaturg and occasionally as a performer. In December 2021, Nahuel was traveling from Amsterdam to Riga. Jānis Balodis picked him up from a ferry in Klaipeda. They were driving. It was late in the evening, already dark, and a severe snow storm started right after they left Klaipeda. They decided to take a smaller road, and there they hit a deer. “The Last Night of the Deer” is a story about that one December evening, which will be part of the “Bastard” programme on April 27th and 29th. “The Shake Down” curator Samuels Ozoliņš sat with them, when Jānis and Nahuel came to the festival.
Samuels: The first question that we all are curious about is – how was your trip? And if travelling by car to the festival is like a part of your show? Is it like preparation for the performance?
Jānis: I would say yes. Because… Usually, there is this thing that I drive. And I like that a lot. Yesterday we went through the dramaturgy of music history, delivered by Nahuel, being an amazing copilot. But also, we were in a snowstorm, maybe not super big, but it was snowy.
Nahuel: Yes, it’s like a preparation, but it’s not something that we planned beforehand for the show. For us, it’s a choice to try to do slow travelling. Because flying by plane is kind of fucked up. It also comes from a decision to be more concerned regarding climate change, and I think it’s also fun to do. But, yeah, it really works as preparation for the show. Because it takes a long time. It’s also creating a small community. And this time we were three, who were riding, it was super nice to have someone else.
Jānis: I guess you can just get more details. Because it takes a longer time. You go into conversations, you might not have a chance to get in. Also, you get bored. You learn how to play silly games. How to entertain each other, and maybe come up with some ideas for the next things, what is ahead.
Nahuel: And also for a small production like us, on one hand, it’s an investment. Because I think it would be cheaper to fly by plane. But on the other hand, it also allows us to travel with scenography. If not, we should have asked Rosendal Theatre to build our car seat. Also we are travelling with instruments and so on. It gives us more autonomy. Although at first look it could look more expensive, but I think in the long run, it gives us more autonomy and more independence.
Jānis: Also – what would happen with the set that would be built here for two shows?
Samuels: And the next question from me is, what does your show mean or represent to you personally?
Nahuel: Well, I think that the piece for me is about our friendship. It’s meaningful, because our friendship, as any friendship, happens in a context. It happens with our ghosts. You become friends with someone, and this person comes with their ghosts, and you’re also accounting with your ghosts. So I think this is pretty much about that. And ghosts that come from the future, ghosts that come from the past.
Jānis: Also the thing is that this performance is not frozen or unchangeable. For example, in Riga for two rehearsals, my daughter joined us. The idea is that maybe she could help us with the lines. But at that moment, we still need to see it ourselves. So Nahuel saw how she could work there with the sound. The show is not fixed. It’s ongoing, we change it. We have changed the sound in some parts, and now we can read more layers there. I suddenly hear that it’s different now than it was. Maybe I have different eyes now on some things. And that for me feels like a good sign of the work – that it keeps offering. I was especially happy for my daughter Teodēzija, that she could be there, because she also is part of this work.
Nahuel: Yeah, and I think what’s very special with this work, is this openness. Like in our rehearsals now. Teodēzija was in charge of sound, she was doing everything with certain explanations. I explained to her how to play the keys a bit. She was great. And she, of course, was improvising, because that was the idea, and some ideas that she came up with work very well in the show. So yeah, now she’s present not only in the text and in our bodies, but also in the sound. I think that is great.
Samuels: And how is it like being curated by teens who are not really professionals in this field?
Jānis: Well… I needed a moment to sit down and process when it was proposed and even when you were still deciding whether to work with us. And then it was announced – ‘yeah, we would like to invite you’. I think it’s a huge thing being nominated… Because when I think of the work and the response, how it’s received by the public… Well, it meant a lot that it has had an impact or was resonating with the young curators. And I felt great about it.
Nahuel: Yeah, I was a bit surprised that younger people got interested in the work. Not because I don’t think the work is good. I think it works. But it was more like – ‘Oh, what are they seeing here?’ I think that again is changing my way. I don’t know what you’re seeing there, but I don’t need to know. Because it opens the question in me and I can start looking at the work in a different way. It brings a different presence to the work. Also for me, it’s another way of looking at teenagers. It’s very surprising because I was thinking – this is so 20th century vintage. The piece is on purpose a little vintage. Now, we changed it for the tour, but all the instruments were analogues in the show that you saw (in Homo Novus 2022). All these technologies from the 70s that were super cool for me.
Jānis: Yeah, and cars. It’s all there, we’re made of that. And the ghosts. How to be with them, how to open up the space for them. So it was a surprise that it clicked.
Nahuel: And more in terms of the process and the few conversations about the organisation that we had, what I think was good was the feeling of openness in the process. I don’t know about other artists, but for us, it was good. What would have been a tense relationship in another context was good for us. If we were working with professionals in a standard festival, and they would say – ‘yeah, we don’t know yet’. It would be like – ‘what the fuck?’ But here we felt like – ‘great, they’re just still figuring it out’. And it was never a problem, it was inspiring to see what will happen.
Samuels: It is good to hear that you didn’t feel that as a burden for you, because that’s what I was kind of worrying about.
Nahuel: No, I don’t think I felt that. It was clear that you are open and we are also open. And we felt allowed to say – ‘well, sorry, guys, it’s too late’. That didn’t happen, but I felt allowed to say that.
Jānis: And then there was someone really wanting the work in this place in Trondheim, and we were okay with that, to see what’s possible. And I felt that we were free to move with this. And there was this curiosity. How’s it going to go? And in a different setup, there is less room for this movement.
Nahuel: I think it’s also very much related to how we work with this show. That we’re flexible in a way. At least until now we were. Let’s see what happens if we keep doing it. But now it’s still alive.
“The Shake Down” (Nr. EEZ/2021/1/15) total eligible costs are € 249 635,00. The project benefits from a € 212 189,75 grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants and € 37 445,25 from national co-financing. The aim of the project is to promote the involvement of young people in solving issues of public importance and participation in the cultural life of the city. Working together for a green, competitive and inclusive Europe. For more information, please visit eeagrants.org