‘Whose war?
Whose fire?
Whose hand is this?’

XENOS by Jordan Tannahill

The text for XENOS, by acclaimed Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill, gives voice to the shell-shocked dream of a colonial soldier in no-man’s land. Many of the sepoys who died in conflict were buried abroad, while for those who returned home, often mutilated and traumatised, another form of erasure followed, as their stories were interred in archives following the rise of Indian nationalism and the rejection of colonial rule. Separated from their own histories, homelands, and countrymen, they became xenoi.

XENOS reveals the beauty and horror of the human condition in its portrait of an Indian dancer whose skilled body becomes an instrument of war. ‘X’ is no man and everyman, the unknown and the eternal soldier, alone in a foreign land, a stranger to himself and to an enemy he does not know.

Akram Khan’s movement language shifts between classical kathak and contemporary dance on Mirella Weingarten’s precipitous and symbolic set. His sepoy is a warrior-child, victim-perpetrator, maker and destroyer of myth, defying categories of duty, loyalty and gender. XENOS takes place on the border between East and West, past and present, mythology and technology, where humanity still stands in wonder and disarray.

XENOS is a portrait of Homo deus brought back to his human origins in clay and fire. Here, on the field of all our battles, our art and culture are the last reservoir of memory, beauty, and the hope that we may, together, find our way home.


No results


  • 2022-07-06 00:00:00 2022-07-08 00:00:00 - Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris - France
  • 2021-04-15 00:00:00 2021-04-17 00:00:00 - Theatre des Champs Elysées, Paris - France
  • 2018-08-16 00:00:00 2018-08-18 00:00:00 - Edinburgh International Festival, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh - Scotland
  • 2018-06-26 00:00:00 2018-06-27 00:00:00 - Montpellier Danse, Opéra Berlioz/Le Corum, Montpellier - France
  • 2018-05-29 00:00:00 2018-06-09 00:00:00 - Sadler's Wells, London - UK
  • 2018-05-17 00:00:00 2018-05-17 00:00:00 - Festspielhaus St. Pölten, Großer Saal, St Pölten - Autriche
  • 2018-04-05 00:00:00 2018-04-06 00:00:00 - Festspielhaus Hellerau, Großer Saal, Dresden - Germany
  • 2018-02-21 00:00:00 2018-02-27 00:00:00 - Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens - Greece


Director/Choreographer/Performer Akram Khan 
Set Designer Mirella Weingarten

Lighting Designer Michael Hulls

Costume Designer Kimie Nakano

Original Music Score composed by Vincenzo Lamagna 
Dramaturg Ruth Little 
Writer Jordan Tannahill 
Rehearsal Director Mavin Khoo 

Dancer Akram Khan

Musicians Nina Harries, Andrew Maddick, B C Manjunath, Tamar Osborn, Aditya Prakash 

Producer Farooq Chaudhry

Associate Producer Lindsey Dear

Technical Director Richard Fagan

Production Manager John Valente

Stage Manager Marek Pomocki

Lighting Engineer Stéphane Déjours

Sound Engineer Julien Deloison

Project/Tour Manager Mashitah Omar

Props made by Louise Edge from LFX props & special fx 

Commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary 

Co-producers Onassis Cultural Centre – Athens, The Grange Festival Hampshire, Sadler’s Wells London, New Vision Arts Festival Hong Kong, Théâtre de la Ville Paris, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, National Arts Centre Ottawa, The 20th China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF), Centro Cultural de Belém, Festspielhaus St. Pölten, Grec 2018 Festival de Barcelona, HELLERAU – European Center for the Arts Dresden, Edinburgh International Festival, Adelaide Festival, Festival Montpellier Danse 2018, Julidans Amsterdam, Canadian Stage Toronto, Romaeuropa Festival, Curve Leicester. 

Sponsored by COLAS

Supported by Arts Council England
Akram Khan is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells London and Curve Leicester.
 Produced during residency at The Grange Festival, Hampshire and Onassis Cultural Centre – Athens.