Hey Xnthony! First things first… if you could describe your new Fringe Show, ‘Confirmation’ in one sentence, what would it be?
It’s a poignant pop concert about growing up queer in rural Ireland.
We like it! And who was your favourite pop star at the time you made your confirmation, and why?
I was obsessed with Shakira! I fancied her in the way I fancied strong women; her self-confidence and her self-driven nature. Only the songs of Shakira would emanate from the rented car my family used when we took the age-long journey from Rosslare to the South of France. We could all speak Spanglish by the end of that journey and my hips could definitely not lie.
What’s your confirmation name, Xnthony, and why did you choose it?
For my confirmation I chose the name Matthew; the patron saint of accountants and tax collectors. Which makes absolutely no sense because I am terrible at accounting for anything.
What age were you when you discovered you were queer, and how did you feel?
I guess I became aware of being queer just at the same time that I made my confirmation, just as I realised I was different and was becoming more self-aware.
I think when you are a queer child you hold a special kind of magic. An otherness. You don’t even need to be just queer to feel it, you simply need to feel ‘other’. Sadly, the magic we possess as children is pushed and pulled from us as we are mangled and managed into society. It’s wrong.
In my life, I have worked towards finding and retrieving that childhood magic, once I realised it had been taken from me.
So, Xnthony, has Roscommon recovered from voting ‘No’ in the marriage referendum yet?
The idea of whether Roscommon even has to recover from the marriage equality referendum is something that I explore in the show. I have a complicated relationship with that. For me, Roscommon is home and there’s always been a strong current of support for me there, so it’s not been black and white in the way some people saw it at the time.
People would come up to me after the referendum and would judge me for being from Roscommon, and to be honest it felt like how people would judge me growing up for being gay. Like much of Ireland, Roscommon is growing, and becoming more accepting all the time. I mean just look at the referendum of the 8th Amendment. Roscommon was a resounding yes in that vote.
What are you interested in exploring with all your work?
I want to bring people together. I want to tell stories. I want to take things that we, as an Irish community, see meaning in and subvert them. I don’t want to follow the status quo or what is expected of me. I am lucky, I guess, because I live in London, which forces me to look at Ireland from the outside. I am always making work for Ireland and about Ireland.
Who is your greatest influence, and why?
Kate Bush. Specifically her live show in 2014. It changed my life. Kate has this uncanny ability to tell stories from the strangest of perspectives. Want to write a 13 minute song about having sex with a snowman? Kate has done it, and I love that!
She shows us the complexities of life through different perspectives. Her live show has influenced the making of Confirmation. She brought nature to the stage with amazing storytelling and staging.
What is your favourite pop song of all time, Xnthony?
My favourite song is ‘Live to Tell’ by Madonna. It’s important because this was when Madonna began to change her approach to songwriting and persona. The song takes a full minute to kick off – an epic stretch of time in pop music terms. The song speaks to me on many levels – loss, love and atmosphere. I doubly love her reinterpretation of the song many years later where she dangled herself from a sparkly cross and got excommunicated. Again.
Who would play you in the biopic of your life and what would it be called?
That would have to be… Cher. And it would have to be called… BOG STAR. Both are ageless.
And last but not least, Xnthony, what’s the best piece of life advice you ever received?
Back during my Leaving Cert days, I was getting into a bit of trouble with lads. There was a lot of name-calling and I was beginning to feel so pent-up and anxious that I could see myself going off on one.
One day, after a lot of verbal abuse in the schoolyard, I hit the roof. I throw a cup of coffee at a guy. A whole cup of scalding, freshly brewed coffee. It hit him. He screamed. I moved on. Later that day my principal pulled me out of art class (pretty much the only safe space I had). I thought I was going to be suspended. We walked around the school, and he turned to me and said: ‘Never change who you are for anybody’. And that, as they say, was that.
Confirmation by X+Co. Is at The Lir Academy as part of the Dublin Fringe from September 18 to 22, tickets are available here.
We have two tickets to give away for the show on Tuesday, September 18 at 9.30pm. To be in with a chance to win, simply answer the following question:
This competition has now closed and winners have been informed by email. Check gcn.ie/competitions for the latest.
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