London-based Portuguese theatre maker Xavier de Sousa is sitting down for soup with his audience as part of his new one-man show. A response to the ongoing global dialogue on borders, POST is coming to Battersea Arts Centre in March for five nights, writes Laura Burgoine…

Following a series of performances around the UK and Europe, the solo theatre show is based around a kitchen table where Xavier serves his grandmother’s recipe of traditional Portuguese soup: Caldo Verde and potent Cachaça.

“I wanted to make a show that broke down the barrier between the stage and the audience,” Xavier told the Weekender. “If you talk about borders you might as well break them down as you do it.”
As part of this, Xavier, who has lived in England for 13 years, is examining his native Portugal. “A big element from the place I come from is the ability to host. We are very good hosts,” he said. “I wanted to utilise that as a theatrical tool. Soup is a big part of Portuguese culture. I make a vegan version!”

The performer has been touring the show, which started at Ovalhouse, for just over two years. “It’s a very different show now. It was much more aggressive back then because I started it as a response to the hostile environment that was starting to really kick in in the mainstream against migrants,” he said. “I want to make a space where we can gather and respond to that situation, where voices that are pro Brexit or pro borders can be heard but also challenged. What better way to do that than a dinner table?”

It’s all consensual and people don’t have to participate, Xavier said. “It’s been interesting to see how the show adapts to local contexts,” he said.

“Every conversation is so different, every mood is so different. It’s interesting as a reflection of locality of where we’re presenting it,” he continued. “In Norwich the show went on for two and a half hours. After the show we let people stay and carry on the conversation. I think that’s important that there’s a space for people to gather and socialise.”

Post is at Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN, on March 18-22 at 8pm.
Admission: £12.50/£10 concession.
Phone: 020 7223 2223.