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Performer Xavier de Sousa: ‘After 600 years of colonialism, my show tries to tell history from a different perspective’

Xavier de Sousa Xavier de Sousa

The Portuguese artist Xavier de Sousa’s latest work Post explores borders and nationalism in the UK after Brexit. He tells Giverny Masso about the importance of his work with migrant and refugee communities…

How did you get into theatre?

I grew up in a small town in Portugal, where there is a performing arts and experimental theatre festival called Citemor, the oldest theatre festival in the country. Artists from across the globe come to see it. My mum was part of the team that organises it, so we used to have artists in our house, sleeping on top of each other. That meant that I grew up with artists from all walks of life, races and sexualities.

Where did you study theatre?

After I moved to England, I went to study at Kingston University. After graduating in 2010, I started doing various freelance work at the King’s Head Theatre. I was also in a theatre collective and Needless Alley, a band that made experimental theatre gigs.

What is Post about?

Post is my first solo theatre piece. Before that I was doing durational live art. I wanted to create a space that uses a traditional form and subverts it. I started working on it when Brexit was happening, and I was feeling a bit low. Originally I wanted to make a piece about Brexit, but actually we’re talking about borders and nationality and how we’ve ended up where we are.

Why are you interested in this topic?

Portuguese history is taught in school as a ‘discovery era’ – 600 years of colonialism. Post tries to tell history from a different perspective. The show takes the form of a monologue and invites people to come and join me at a table on stage, where we drink the Brazilian spirit cachaca together.

You also run ‘migrant takeover party’ events – what are these?

Some performances of Post will feature post-show migrant takeover parties, which give migrants and refugees an opportunity to celebrate everything they bring to the UK. It’s a party, a collaboration of queer migrants and activists, in partnership with Counterpoint Arts, the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group and Traumfrau.

What other projects are you working on?

I am currently developing a show called Time/Colonia in partnership with the Barbican in London. I’ll be going to meet migrant and refugee communities around the UK, and I’ll be hosting dinner events and movie nights. I’m hoping to create a sense of community, which will allow us to talk about the process of adapting to a new environment and the influence of language when you are travelling to a new place. From Post, I’ve also made a new four-hour show called Regnant, which was part of Live Collision in Dublin.

Post has dates at the Marlborough Theatre, the Lighthouse in Poole, and Home in Manchester between May 20 and October 24. Details: xavierdesousa.co.uk

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