Les Sables de l'empereur

5 min

Les Sables de l'empereur by Victor de Oliveira, based on Mia Couto's novel, supported by IF Création

With Les Sables de l'empereur, Victor de Oliveira adapts Mia Couto's novel for the stage and immerses himself in a feverish evocation of Mozambique. Through two intersecting destinies and a love story, he explores the origins of a multifaceted Africa and transforms a powerful narrative into a major new theatrical work. The project is supported by the IF Création (Théâtre) scheme, which helps French creatives to collaborate with foreign artistic teams. 

Les Sables de l'empereur

A prolific director

Born in Mozambique, Victor de Oliveira is an actor and director. Having started in theatre in Lisbon, he joined the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique in Paris in 1994. His theatrical experiences allow him to collaborate with directors such as Wadji Mouawad for Œdipe Roi or Tous des Oiseaux before participating in projects with Stanislas Nordey such as Incendies, again by Wadji Mouawad, or Erich Von Stroheim by Christophe Pellet. In 2016, he translated, acted in and directed Clôture de l'amour by Pascal Rambert at the Teatro do Bairro Alto in Lisbon. He also works with young actors around African drama and teaches at Sorbonne Nouvelle University Paris 3. 


A disruptive origin story

Adapted from Mia Couto's novel, Les Sables de l'empereur imagines an origin story of his country, Mozambique, in the face of colonial violence at the end of the nineteenth century. In the hidden Africa of the period, a love story unfolds before the audience around the intertwined destinies of Germano, a Portuguese soldier exiled in Mozambique, and Imani, his interpreter. Drifting downriver during the final years of Emperor Ngungunyane's reign, their journey plunges them into the heart of a chaotic war. 


The flamboyance of a big show

With Les Sables de l'empereur, Victor de Oliveira, himself the grandson of colonists and colonials, takes on a flamboyant text, to which he adds a personal touch. He imagines a lavish spectacle, led by a masterful cast, that succeeds in blurring the boundaries between the mysteries of a faraway Africa and the future of modern Africa. In a mix of eras, styles and emotions, he opts for a flashy, decadent and tough staging that blends the power of history, the quest for identity and the endless resilience of humans. 


Future visibility in France and Europe

Les Sables de l'empereur was first performed at the Théâtre des Célestins in Lyon from 10 to 14 October 2023, to acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Following this deserved success, the play will be performed across France and in Europe over the coming months. This project is supported by the IF Création (Théâtre) scheme and will be staged at the Théâtre National Dona Maria II in Lisbon from 20 to 23 March 2024. It will also be at MC93 in Bobigny from 27 to 30 March 2024, then from 3 to 4 April 2024 at Malraux, Chambéry National Theatre.