Nando Messias’ Sissy Series

Nando Messias’ Sissy series concluded in October 2017 with Death and the Sissy, a one-off performance at Toynbee Studios. This staged send-off for the character Sissy, served also as epilogue to the preceding trilogy, comprised of Sissy! (2008), The Sissy’s Progress (2015) and Shoot the Sissy (2016).

The Sissy series originated as an artistic response to a personal experience of a homophobic assault Messias suffered on the street where he lives in East London. The work examines the social body, visibility and the violence directed at visibly effeminate men. To this he brings his extraordinary stagecraft, raw physique and a particular form of elegant authenticity.

Messias’ Sissy series reflects his belief that as an artist, he has not only the opportunity but also the duty to do something about the hatred and violence that has touched him on such a personal and physical level.

The Sissy series is about defiance and resilience. It is a hyperbolic statement of flamboyance and beauty. The Sissy’s Progress and Shoot the Sissy toured around Britain to some of the most prestigious queer arts festivals in the country. The Sissy’s Progress, part dance-theatre, part promenade performance, took its audiences out onto the streets, reclaiming the sissy’s space in public and repositioning him firmly and unambiguously within a discourse of self-empowerment. The final three performances took place at the very spot where the original attack had happened in 2005. The project included social outreach work in the form of free workshops to emerging artists at community centres.

The series has been supported by Arts Council England and has been developed in partnership with Live Art Development Agency, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Queen Mary University of London. Alongside the live performances, Nando has written critical reflection pieces on his experience of developing the work. These writings have been published, among other places, in Queer Dramaturgies: International Perspectives on Where Performance Leads Queer (Palgrave 2016) and Performing Interdisciplinarity: Working Across Disciplinary Boundaries Through an Active Aesthetic (Routledge 2017). Currently in his post-Sissy phase, Nando is investigating questions around archiving, Sissy histories, endings and new beginnings. He is also invested in creating space for ageing queer bodies and is planning to develop larger, ensemble pieces for the stage.

Categories: Report

Date Posted: 21 March 2018