Hi! I’m Carlota (she/her). I’m a Portuguese theatre and performance artist based in Bristol and have lived in the UK for 8 years. I work with artists, communities and young people, focusing on co-creation, access and social change.
As a migrant, issues of identity and belonging are very present for me and I bring them into my work, as well as my experiences of mental ill-health. I frequently work as Director/ Facilitator with organisations such as Myers-Insole Local Learning CIC, Lightbox Theatre, Many Minds mental health charity, Travelling Light theatre company and Bristol Old Vic.
In 2022, I started to develop a methodology for inclusive practice which embraces and removes language barriers, incorporating different languages and translation on stage, and integrates access for d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people.
I organised some workshops for migrant women in February/March 2023 at Docklands Community Centre and Bristol Refugee Festival (BRF) were incredibly supportive, helping to promote the sessions and even coming along.
Attending BRF events always made me feel very welcome. There is something comforting in being in a room filled with people from different cultures and nationalities. I find it so much easier to connect with others over this shared experience of not being from the UK, and the understanding of the challenges that migration poses.
The success of my workshops led to a partnership with Bristol-based charity Borderlands, and we ran two theatre workshops for women as part of BRF’s festival programme in June.
I strongly believe that theatre can be a powerful tool for self-expression, to bring people together and improve wellbeing. It can be a great platform to raise awareness, increase empathy and improve representation. In my work, I am dedicated to breaking down barriers in access to the arts, and creating high-quality cultural experiences which defy perceptions of what theatre is and who it’s for.
Activities at Borderlands theatre group for migrant women. Photo: Chelsey Cliff
Since September 2023, we offer free weekly theatre workshops for migrant women at Borderlands, alongside theatre trips and opportunities to share our work. This participatory theatre project addresses language barriers and explores identity and what it means to be a woman in different cultures. We have so many skills and knowledge in our group and these sessions offer an opportunity to try new things in a supportive environment.
We have also been working with Ania Varez, a Venezuelan dance and movement artist based in Bristol. We are always open for new participants to join us and all levels of English are welcome.
We had our first sharing as part of Theatre of Migration, an event commissioned by Counterpoints Arts for Platforma Festival 2023. Some of the participants ran an ice-breaker for the audience and showcased their art, writing, crafts and food recipes.
As part of the event, community artist Hiba Elhindi showed a film about her brilliant work with the Sudanese community and we discussed the ethics of participation, making theatre from lived experience and working with migrants, chaired by (BRF community engagement officer) Vandna.
I am so pleased to be able to work alongside such inspiring people and outstanding organisations who bring their expertise to our work together. The event was filmed and I am writing some reflections to be published alongside the recording – keep an eye on Counterpoints’ socials!
Vandna (left) and Carlota (right) participating in discussion at Platforma. Photo: Chelsey Cliff
Our next sharing will be on 7th December at Borderlands and will include a yummy meal. Everyone is invited and there will be a crèche available, as well as BSL interpretation. Book your free place here.
I am also currently directing Bristol, do you mind? with Many Minds. It’s a piece about people’s connection to Bristol and public spaces in the city. It will be performed on 5th December at Travelling Light Studio (Wellspring Settlement). Tickets available on Eventbrite.
Finally, I have been working internationally with Future Laboratory, a project of research residences throughout Europe to identify missing narratives on our stages.
Main photo credit: Seb Peters