Apples & Snakes, Pleasure, Pain & Loss

Review in Issue 11-4 | Winter 1999

Under the Apples & Snakes umbrella the performances by Stacy Makishi and Imani Uzuri presented in this double bill are both works in progress. Both performers use storytelling techniques to draw on themes of family history.

Stacy Makishi’s Suicide For Beginners was billed as the culmination of four ‘open rehearsals’. Having participated in one of these, I formed the impression that they functioned more as exemplars of Makshi’s devising process than as sessions which actively contributed to the Friday performance. Makishi’s story – told on audio tape – remembers the lives and deaths of a young girl’s mother and grandmother through snippets of anecdote and family philosophy. The performance operates as a visual poem; the stage pictures that Makishi creates are often rather literal translations of recurrent images within the text. The performance as a whole is most effective when the stage action refers to the text metaphorically – creating a sense of the narrator’s inner world through the surreal and absurd. Makishi is an engaging performer and the humour she brings to her work makes it all the more touching, especially when she allows her vivid imagination free rein.

Imani Uzuri was programmed at the last minute, replacing Susan Lewis as advertised. Perhaps this was why her piece seemed so unfinished. Uzuri sets live song against projected text to convey a young woman’s quest to discover identity and strength through personalised stories of historical oppression within the African American community. The snippets of text provide a powerful basis and Uzuri’s beautiful singing voice – at moments a half-contained scream of frustration and pain – expresses her sense of connection with this family history. Visually, though, the piece was limited, not yet a fully realised theatrical event.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-4
p. 21