Written by Maddy Costa in conversation with and edited by Leo Kay and Anna Smith.
Leo: There's a quote which someone said to me: when the stories you tell yourself about yourself are too far from the truth, that's where madness lies. So it's about trying to be congruous and authentic and trying to tell real stories, truthful stories about yourself, so you don't feel torn.
The etymology of authenticity is fascinating. In the mid-1300s it meant authoritative, and yet it shares no root with that word: instead, it reaches back to old Greek words for autonomy, originality and the marriage of self with accomplishment. Arguably, all these notions are vital to Leo's desire for an authentic practice: a desire that has led him away not only from mimetic, character-based performance, but also from working with capoeira, the Brazilian martial art he practised on and off for 18 years.
“I can't remember when I stopped training, but I started to feel uncomfortable with my positioning, this sense of not knowing my place politically, not understanding my place culturally within it,” he says. “Even though I love the practice, I don't want to be appropriating in the way that I present myself. I'm uncomfortable in the position of a white European who has the freedom to put on the cloak of this predominantly black cultural manifestation which grew out of oppression and resistance, and use it as part of my identity, able to pick it up and drop it at will.”