Literature: The Hawaiis and wherefores

An unlikely alliance between a Hawaiian writer with a penchant for vegetables and a former actor from Manchester is redefining the slippery notion of performance poetry

You could tie yourself in knots trying to define exactly what it is Benji Reid and Stacy Makishi (right) do. On Friday, they are both appearing at Apples and Snakes, one of London's liveliest performance poetry clubs, for its final 1997 shindig. But that does not quite make them performance poets; elastic that label may be, but it is stretched to breaking point by the far-outness of their acts. "It's the easiest term to live with, though," says Makishi, who hails from Hawaii and is currently residing in Hackney where she "is often mistaken for Dr Spock".

She tries to elucidate on the form and content of the unnamed piece she will be rendering on the night: "I use a lot of props, a lot of vegetables - particularly cabbages and sprouts - and some movement, in which you can see hula or kabuki elements. There isn't any rhyme... well, I don't know, maybe there is. I suppose it's like automatic writing, a non-linear, non-narrative sort of flip-flopping - I take on a word, stereotype or myth and subvert it."

So, to summarise: "It should feel like driving round the island of Hawaii - a circular journey." And how do the good citizens of her native Honolulu respond? "Some people get it, some people don't. My approach is to go right into the audience's eyes. The more afraid I am, the closer I get [a sort of flopped Morrissey, then]. Some people find it very embarrassing and confrontational. I guess I'm just an embarrassing type of person."

By comparison, Mancunian Benji Reid is positively certifiable (in the nicest possible sense). An actor and dancer who has worked with the David Glass Ensemble, Trestle Theatre Company, Black Mime and Soul II Soul (circa 1990), Reid's performance texts have a rhythmic delivery, underscored by body-popping movements. "The effect I'm striving for is that of a live video, where I can stop, rewind, edit and cut from one scene or character to another in seconds," he explains.

His first piece, "15 Seconds of Fame" lashed out at the treatment of black actors in television; his latest "Paper Jackets", muses on man's life-denying addiction to bureaucratic systems. As with Makishi, the page just won't do proper justice.

Apples & Snakes, 9pm, Friday 19 Dec, Oval House Theatre, London SE11 (0171-582 7680) pounds 4.50, pounds 3 concs

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

    £17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test