ONE-MAN tour de force Nando Messias presents the third instalment of his Sissy trilogy, this time using last year’s Orlando shootings as a starting point. Described as a “disturbingly beautiful freak show, a queer menagerie of carnivalesque contortion and florid fantasy”, Shoot the Sissy explores the everyday threats faced by the LGBT community. Messias told EDWIN GILSON about why staging the show was so important to him.

You say your show puts audiences in the “firing line”. How, exactly?

The show is based around structured shootings in the sense that there are several moments when I get the crowd to throw things at me. It starts with juggling balls, and then after that there is flour, and then a confetti cannon. It’s all very visual and fun, and that’s the way I draw the audience in. As the play goes on, though, it gets darker and is not so funny to watch any more. The last shooting allegorises the Orlando shootings. I really wanted to respond to that event. I want the audience to reflect on being bystanders. If you are a passive bystander you are still participating, in a way.

You say you’ve taken your character Sissy in a “more surprising direction”. How so?

I’ve had three performance pieces with this character Sissy, and I think I’ve really delved into him. In this piece, I describe the symbolic death of the character. I would like to explore something new, post-Sissy.

The show explores the themes of human frailty and uniqueness. Is it about acknowledging the occasional need for support while also embracing our individuality?

My intention is to leave the audience thinking about what they can do, how they contribute towards the binary system we have created. Perhaps they can help change that by connecting with that sense of difference in themselves, that frailty and vulnerability we all share.

Are you ever conscious that you are preaching to the converted in your show? Surely the people who would really benefit from it are smallminded bigots.

That’s what I want to do next. I think I’ve already expressed everything I have to say with the Sissy. Now I want to perform in more mainstream venues and talk to people who are not so ready to listen, perhaps. My feeling is if I don’t give up and continue to do the work, I can win people over. I don’t have any answers but I know I shouldn’t stop doing this. I want to make my voice heard.

You performed an outdoor theatre piece in reaction to an attack you suffered in London. What was the public reaction to it?

Whenever I took the piece outside I would encounter verbal abuse, and sometimes people would throw cans of drinks at me. That was extremely difficult and stressful, but at the same time it was framing the issue so that people could see this kind of thing happens on a daily basis to queer people. The audience were protected and safe, but at the same time witness to this recreation of an attack. I wanted to get the message across that this is still happening everywhere to queer people. I had to remind myself there is a reason for me doing this, and that people were responding to it.

Nando Messias, Marlborough Theatre, Prince’s Street, Brighton, Thursday, March 9, 7.30pm, £7.50-£9.50, call 01273 273 870 or visit for tickets