Alice de Sousa creates a play that brings heroes of the Holocaust into the limelight

Award-winning actress Alice de Sousa is staging a play about a Portuguese Righteous Gentile who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

Aristides — the Outcast Hero tells the story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who disobeyed his government and issued 30,000 transit visas to refugees seeking to escape the Nazis.

Ms de Sousa, 42, of the Galleon Theatre Company, has written and starred in more than 100 plays, but describes her latest creation as particularly poignant.

She tells People: “The idea came to me four years ago, and I started doing some research. I became gripped by the extraordinary story of such bravery, which has been somewhat neglected.

“What Aristides de Sousa Mendes did was a great deed and although his actions have been recognised in Israel and America, his story remains largely unknown in Britain.” The play, which opened at the Greenwich Playhouse on Tuesday, stars Barry Davies who has worked on and appeared in Hollywood films such as Schindler’s List, The Pianist, The Man Who Cried and The Merchant of Venice.

Born in Portugal, Ms de Sousa graduated from London’s South Bank University with a degree in EEC law in 1995. In 2005, she won the American Biographical Institute’s Great Women of the 21st Century award and Woman of the Year 2005.

She was also shortlisted for the Portuguese Government’s illustrious award Prémio de Talento 2006, in recognition of her theatrical productions of Portuguese literature.

She lives in Greenwich, London.

    Last updated: 2:45pm, January 29 2009