it exists to make one feel
Being Dead (Don Quixote) | Review
Lauren Ulmer | Sydney Arts Guide
10 March, 2018
“I’ve never read Don Quixote and don’t intend to” Kerith Manderson-Galvin declares in the after show Q&A. “I’ve read snippets but that’s it.”
Being Dead (Don Quixote) presented by MKA in association with KXT bAKEHOUSE & Unofficial Kerith Fan Club, is best described as a simulacra; a copy or amalgamation of an original text altered into a new form or belief. A work that has been performed and continually developed over the past 5 years, Manderson-Galvin believes the work has changed alongside theirself. In it’s current state, the performance is self-described as a “queer, femme, adventure” which best explains the ideas presented throughout succinctly.
Inspired by the original text by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedraby, Being Dead (Don Quixote) also borrows concepts from Madame Bovary, The Wizard of Oz, Judith Butler, Kathy Acker, After Cervantes, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Barbie TV Adverts. Kerith Manderson-Galvin intends on merging high and low art on stage in the hopes it will be understood.
Invited to leave at certain points in the show, Manderson-Galvin is well aware that this isn’t a show everyone will enjoy. However, is particularly thrown off by those who stay for the entire duration despite their own enjoyment, as mentioned in the after show Q&A. The character’s persona is meek, mild, and unsure of themselves, constantly apologising to the audience throughout. This invites viewers to further question the show’s validity, which is intentional on Manderson-Galvin’s behalf. For this reason, it is then surprising that they are uncomfortable with audience members watching until the end, with confronting dislike shown on faces.
Various elements in the work, from fourth-wall breaking, to singing and dancing sequences, to traumatic descriptions of events, invoke strong emotional audience responses. Perhaps this is the greatest take away from the show, it exists to make one feel. Whether this means frustration from Manderson-Galvin on a lack of walk outs and audience participation, or audience members crying in empathy with the character during scenes, avant-garde performance art seeks a reaction.
The most powerful part of the performance was managing to describe an abortion scene from various perspectives including a doctor’s, patient’s, and an overall medical perspective, with a deeply emotional Kerith Manderson-Galvin throughout. Later, appearing in pink satin fabric, they are symbolically reborn through a prolonged and delicate dance sequence.
Being Dead (Don Quixote) is a performance that seeks multiple interpretations with feminist and queer theory at the forefront. It is a post-structuralist performance with no intention of guiding the audience through a linear story. Additionally, audiences must uncover subtext from start to finish which may not be to their liking. Kerith Manderson-Galvin is going on a journey of the self with audiences joining whether they like it or not.