Pushing Boundaries: Part 2 – Crossing Genres


Following on from my post about a couple of Adelaide Fringe events, both involving a workshop, and a live performance:

2 . Crossing Genres

Last weekend (Saturday 17th March 2012, St.Patrick’s Day), as part of SPOKE, Jenny Toune put on a ‘cross genre’ event, consisting of a morning workshop, and an evening performance.  She brought together writers and performers, paired us up (apparently randomly, one writer with one performer), and sent each pair off to choose one of the writer’s pieces of work to perform.  I was paired with the very talented Petra Szabo.  I’d never met Petra before. She has a background in dance, theatre, singing as well as being a writer herself.  We had about 45 minutes before we had to present our piece to the rest of the workshop.  So we quickly picked a poem I’d written that week, called “The Skin I Live In”, which we thought was suitable.

An interesting process. Petra certainly drove the performance side of it, thankfully. She constructed a routine involving each of us reading parts of the poem, with Petra dancing various sections. The only prop was an umbrella, which she used to great effect.  The run through in the workshop went quite well, given that it was the first time through.

And that was it, until the evening performance before an audience on the stage at Shimmering West!  No polishing, no perfecting, no extended practicing. Jenny emphasised that this was not theatre, this was an experiment in crashing two genres together and seeing what happens.

Come the evening session, after an open mic (with Open Mike), session, we were into the live performances.  The others I watched were really good. The performers and poets working well together, interpreting, connecting, presenting.  Some very talented people and a receptive audience.  As for my performance with Petra, there were a few dodgy moments where one or other of us wasn’t quite sure what we were meant to do next, but it went fine, and the feedback was positive.  I believe Sean King filmed the whole day, so there may be video available at some stage.

Here’s the poem we used:

The Skin I Live In….

is not the skin I was born in

but a version of it

the latest instalment

of a long running story

The skin I grew in

was bruised, burnt

soothed, hugged

scalpelled and stitched

The skin I played in

was pushed, stretched

inked, smeared

muddied and bloodied

The skin I fought in

was pinched, spat on

kicked, jeered

punched and pricked

The skin I loved in

was bared, revealed

oiled, massaged

caressed and kissed

The skin I work in

is clean, shaven

good and proper

white and regular

the skin I write in

is naked, exposed

sensitized, susceptible

reaching and probing

the skin I live in

cannot be preserved

processed, prolonged



nothing can save my skin
the skin I die in

will not be the same skin

that now envelops me

but a descendant

A frailer husk, a drier casing

a peeling parchment

etched with symbols

a final, still shifting shroud

shedding inexorably

from the surface of what

was a life

 Copyright Mike Hopkins 2012

14 thoughts on “Pushing Boundaries: Part 2 – Crossing Genres

  1. Sue Fleming who is on the board of the SA Writers Centre and the board of the Spoke Festival launched the anthology’Relay’ of the Marion Writers Group which she founded yesterday. She is a very busy lady.

    A good poem,. Mike; it reminds me of that gtreat song by the Clash — and sung by Simon Dogg — ‘Lose That Skin’ [it’s on You Tube] from the ‘Sandinista’ album. In fact, I’m going to check it out right now [ it makes the hairs on the back of my neck — a real test — stand on end].

  2. Hi Mike,

    I’m sorry I wasn’t able to go to this event; sounds like it was good. And I bet your performance with Petra was excellence.

    I love this poem; very sensual and a great finish ‘…shedding inexorably / from the surface of what / was a life.’

    I can hear its strength as a performance piece.


  3. Well done Mike. This was the best Fringe thing I saw this year, and in ages. Fringe as it’s meant to be. Artistic, edgy, experimental – not pre-fab comedy acts imported from the Eastern states.

    All of the performances, which ranged from very good to sublime (yours was at the sublime end of the scale), were wildly entertaining. Fabulous stuff.


  4. I’m glad you enjoyed the experience Mike- you and Petra were terrific as were all the artists/writers. Would love to see this as a regular SPOKE Word Festival event!

  5. It was an exciting day of collaboration, Mike, & I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ve been wanting to do this for quite a while now, as I have a strong dance background & have been crossing genres in my own work for the past couple of years.
    I had an amazing group of people to work with! & I hope I’ve allowed them to look at their own work in a different way by introducing the collaborative aspect of performance.

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