Background and History
Benji Reid is a award winning visual theatre director. Benji’s dance background includes; 1985 GLC Break-Dance Champions with Broken Glass Street Crew, UK Popping Champion, European Popping Champion and 2nd in the 1986 World Dance Championships. In 1989 Benji worked with the legendary Soul II Soul as the main dancer and assentant choreographer for their world tour, appearing on the Arsino Hall show and playing at the Soul Train Awards. He formally trained as a dancer with the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.
As an actor with Denise Wong and David Glass. Following his years as a freelance performer he formed physical theatre company Breaking Cycles. In theatre Benji has worked widely with such highly regarded companies as the David Glass Ensemble, Trestle Theatre, Theatr Clwyd and Black Mime Theatre. It was with Black Mime Theatre that Benji first became interested in directing. Benji Reid has been creating visual theatre since 1994. His first production was directing Jonzi D's solo of 'Aeroplane Man' circa 94/95, in 1996 and in he toured 'Paper Jackets', a one-man show he wrote and starred in. In 1998 Benji went on to direct his first main stage play, hip hop musical 'Avalanche' for Nottingham Playhouse - this became the foundation for Breaking Cycles the company. In 2000 Benji curated ‘The Illness’, a night of hip-hop dance theatre in Sadler’s Wells, London. Benji hosted and performed ‘The Holiday’ supported by Jim Parris and DJ Bizness on the decks. Other performers on the night included Robert Hilton and Jonzi D and Abstract Dance (consisting of Mo Ideas and Frank Wilson).Directed Clockwork Orange for three nights at The National Theatre of England. In 2005 Benji received the NESTA Dreamtime Fellowship, awarded to prestigious artists for their outstanding achievements and continuing development and was also nominated for the Art05 award for his work in the North West of England.
Solo theatre work:
The Devil has Quentin’s Heart
B Like Water
Style 4 Free
15 Seconds of Fame
Directing and lighting Nick Makoha's 'My Father and Other Superheroes'.
Directing 'Othello' the Opera, for the Yo! Opera Festival/Likeminds, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Directing 'Crystal Kisses' at Contact, Manchester
Directing ‘Mzobane’ by the South African Pantsula dance group Via Volcano as part of the Afrovibes festival 2010. Choreography by William Mbambo.
Dramaturge for Marcus Hercules ‘Different Perspectives’
Dramaturge for Nzi Dada
Co-director of Hip Hop Commedia, a play with Michael Field at the New York Theatre Workshop for Playback Theater
Hip Hop musical ‘Avalanche’ for Nottingham Playhouse
Directing Jonzi D's solo of 'Aeroplane Man'
Co-directing the ensemble of Aeroplane Man.
Devising and directing ‘Life Of A B-Boy’ for Spearfish and Funkstylerz UK
Co-director and choreographer of hip-hop musical ‘Slamdunk’ with Felix Cross, Artistic Director of NITRO
Director of Leo Kay’s ‘Mr Sole Abode’
Director of Charlie Dark’s ‘Have Box Will Travel’
Choreographer of Dansopolis for Yorkshire Dance
Choreographer of ‘Seven’, a hip hop adaptation of the Greek classic ‘Seven Against Thebes’, directed by Steven Sapp, written by Will Power, with the University of Iowa
Lead actor and Movement Director inRagamuffin, on national tour.
Created Peaches for ACE Dance’s 2002 national tour.
Co-devised and directed Conversing With Angels for Qasim Riza Shahee.
Movement Director for Storm, a play by Lemn Sissay at Contact Theatre, Manchester.
“You’re never bored that you’ve only got Benji Reid for company because he has an exuberant variety of skills to keep you entertained” Time Out, London
“Truly multi talented artist” The Voice
“Visually, Benji Reid is one of the most stunning theatre artists on the scene today- the way he uses his body, voice and spirit to tell a story is truly a sight to see" Will Power, USA
“This is a poet trapped inside the body of a dancer. It’s a killer combination” Daily Telegraph, Australia
“Reid is a performance artist, stand up tragedian and body popping comic” The Voice
“The star of the evening is Benji Reid” The British Theatre Guide
“A multi-sensory performance that leaves you hypnotised” Manchester Evening News on The Devil has Quentin’s Heart
Breaking Cycles is dedicated to creating excellent, engaging theatre and to helping others do likewise. Their aim is to speak to a wide range of audiences through their performances and to provide guidance and support to young artists through teaching, mentoring and work experience. Breaking Cycles is an artist led company dedicated to the creation and production of inclusive, highly energised, emotionally conflicting physical theatre - crossing and challenging the boundaries of multi disciplined art forms, layering contemporary vision with classical inspiration. Breaking Cycles is a national and international advocate for Hip Hop Theatre, playing a key role in its development as an art form, challenging, engaging and creating new audiences for theatre. Breaking Cycles has created a number of productions, which have sold out to audiences across the UK touring circuit and Internationally. The shows that the company has produced include:
- The Waiting Room, a trilogy including ThePugilist, Holiday and Crowded Stomach, toured UK and Internationally in 2000. The Pugilist was later reworked and presented at the 2002 British Dance Edition showcase.
- In the same year Style 4 Free was created for the Hip Festival. The Pugilist, Holiday and Style 4 free then went on a sell out tour of Brazil, New Zealand, Sydney Opera House, and the Royal Opera House, London.
- B Like Water, a co-production with Contact Theatre, co-directed by John McGrath and written by Lemn Sissay and 13 Mics co-directed by Jonzi D were created in 2003.
- 13 Mics showcased at Decibel Xtrax before touring nationally and internationally including a three-week London run at the Lyric Hammersmith and playing to a sell out audience of 1800 on the main stage at Sadler’s Wells as part of Breaking Convention Hip Hop Festival 2004.
Breaking Cycles latest production is The Devil has Quentin’s Heart. The show premiered at Contact Theatre in November 2009 and toured the UK before appearing at the Breaking Walls Festival in Amsterdam in Spring 2010.
Breaking Cycles produce a biennial hip-hop theatre workshop festival called Process, which began in Manchester in 2006. Process is an intensive theatre laboratory offering young artists a rare opportunity to work with world-renowned performers and theatre experts. Since the first workshop in 2006 Process has become an essential step in the development of hot new performers. Process is ideal for experienced young artists or performing arts graduates. The aim of Process is to discover new approaches to storytelling and learn how to combine individual’s talents with those of others to create cutting edge physical theatre.