A Critical Analysis of the Performance Practice,
the Originality and the Development of Davy Dillinger.
A Research Paper for QUT Creative Performer
Upon being accepted to the Queensland University of Technology, I was a competent cellist accompanied by awards in theatre with a vision of learning to adopt production technology to my own performances. Coincidently to the first weeks of semester, I was employed into a live music venue where local musicians and internationally renowned stars are both able to grace the stage, in turn, empowering me to strive to become a dynamic performing artist. For better or worse, these musical acts were all influential in how I wish to perform. As a creative performer and student of a tertiary institution, I am able to provide context to what I perform and understand the origins of what I choose portray and amplify on stage. For my end of year showcase, I will be presenting an act under the guise of Davy Dillinger, a conceptual punk rock group performing original works of my own composition. In this paper, I will discuss, intellectualize and analyse the notions of anthropologic theory and philosophy within my own creative practice. The paper will then deconstruct my performance approaches by utilizing methods within performance philosophies to then be supported by academic evidence and examples of creative artists that embody or portray these specific methods. The focus will be upon the Anthropology of Performance while also drawing on academia from Theories of the Body and Body Language. In addition to the supported inquiring analysis of my creativity, will be a discussion of my own personal development as a creative performer and how these theories are both influential and coincidently immersed into my practice.
The Anthropology of Performance is referred to and associated with the Latin term, theatrum mundi, translating to the literal term, world stage (Page, 2010). Poet, William Shakespeare popularized and appropriated this idiom within his script of As You Like It in a soliloquy performed by the apathetic character, Jacques; “all the world’s a stage/and all the men and women are merely players” (Kolankiewicz, 2010). Centuries leading up to the Bard’s works, the Greeks and Romans had devised the philosophy that creativity was God-given, defined as divine. This divinity was separate to the self, the individual, mortal self as the vehicle to a mystic Daemon or Genius channeling and controlling one’s creativity (McGuinness, 2009). This suggests that all these ‘mere players’ have had their talents divinely bestowed and blessed to them; a trait that William Shakespeare uses to both praise and damn in his written works. Although the Bard’s affiliations of faith are a mystery and will remain so (Huxley, 1992), the prose he scripted in his plays of both comedy and tragedy, he builds these roles around their relationship with such faiths only to raze them. In Kolankiwicz’s Towards an Anthropology of Performance(s), describes the Hindu deity, Siva, who performs a similar practice (Kolankiewicz, 2008). The destructive actions of Siva are perceived to be constructive as he creates the world, sustains it only to destroy it. This destruction is a progression in order to renew and regenerate, to destroy our relationships and attachment (Jayaram, 2010). Through destruction, there is a facilitation of smooth transitioning. Siva’s divine spectacle of creation and destruction defines elements of the Theatre of Cruelty (Kolankiewicz, 2008); a form of absurdist theatre constructed by Antonin Artaud.
The Theatre of Cruelty would provoke the human condition in order to unleash unconscious audience reactions of fear while remaining completely present. Artaud did not wish his theatre to be one to escape the horrors and nightmares of the world (Ryan and Ryan, 2010 and Monje, 2012). British rock act, Muse, have realized the intentions of creating something majestic solely to destroy it with their brand of theatrically electric music. The Matthew Bellamy led trio are able to recreate classical romantic pieces within their own works yet choose to juxtapose, and consequently, destroy their dynamic creations with distortion, feedback and discordance. Their defiance against aural beauty and divinity is explored in their Rachmaninov referenced, Butterflies and Hurricanes (muse, 2010a) and the arpeggio driven, Map of the Problematique (muse, 2010b), climaxing to sonic destruction. Siva’s sense of sabotage didn’t escape David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust nor New Jersey’s My Chemical Romance and their creation, The Black Parade. Both artists adopted alter egos and new personas to create highly conceptual albums that rose to international acclaim and popularity (Schuftan, 2009). The concepts and the fame that accompanied the music became out of the artist’s control, verging on an act of martyrdom. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Black Parade is Dead! scheduled the destruction and death of their own creations in order for David Bowie and My Chemical Romance respectively, to move on to different approaches and regenerate themselves as individuals and conjurers of creativity (Kolankiewicz, 2008, McGuinness, 2008 and Schuftan, 2010). These artists adopted Gombrowicz’s notion of Form to create and deliver their art as a separate entity (Kolankiewicz, 2008); allowing the creative forces at work to take over while their persona remains inauthentic, displaying a similarity to the Romanic and Greek ideas of a Daemon or a genius (McGuinness, 2009). Had these artists and characters adopted their own creative concepts as their own authenticity, their own martyrdom would’ve claimed them. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain is testament to this concept as he created “authentic” music in a time of glam and the inauthentic, adopting Goffman’s view that creativity and the sustenance of the creation is a product of the individual’s self (Kolankiewicz, 2008). While remaining proudly attached to his compositions, Cobain had to confront the associated pressures of superstardom, an act in which he did not enjoy or contract to when he originally picked up a guitar (Schuftan, 2009).
In a severe act of martyrdom, Cobain died for the beauty in his music, burning out at the peak of his career, embodying the infamy of Neil Young’s tragic lyrical expression; “it’s better to burn out/than to fade away” (Schuftan, 2012). The notion of beauty in an individual’s music is as important as the image that accompanies the creation, a concept that is overlooked and ignored by “authentic” musicians. In a research study conducted in 1997, it was founded that competent to “excellent” male vocalists that are not particularly attractive may be less successful than their more visually appealing counterparts of the same ability (Wapnick etal, 1997). In the realms and niches of punk and hardcore music, physical attractiveness is not a pre-requisite nor is success a prerogative. Joe Strummer of The Clash disbanded his first musical outing, the 101ers, on the discovery of punk. “The great thing about Punk was; if you were ugly, you were in.” (Temple, 2008). Boston hardcore outfit, Modern Life is War outlined this discovery as empowerment in their anthem to touring life and punk iconoclasts, The Ramones, D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S. “we’re not pretty and we’re not rich/We’re gonna have to fucking work for it” (Modern Life is War, 2005). Not only did lyricist, Jeffery Eaton, state the work ethics of his group, he gave it a uniform. “It’s our life we do what we chose/Black jeans, black shirt, black shoes” (Modern Life is War, 2005). This uniform has symmetry to the list that Chuck Palahniuk’s, Fight Club, requires to become a member of Tyler Durden’s Project Mayhem (Palahniuk, 1996). The requested attire for the fictional anarchistic group isn’t the only parallel that Palahniuk’s novel turned movie shares with theatrum mundi and the deconstruction of beauty. Tyler Durden coined his own edition of “theatrum mundi”, “we are the all singing, all dancing, crap of the world” (Palahniuk, 1996).
The unnamed protagonist subconsciously creates Tyler Durden, his alter ego who is “all the ways you wish you could be, that’s me. I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not.” (Palahniuk, 1996). The story immerses itself in the damnation of divinity, “We don’t need Him. Fuck Damnation! Fuck Redemption! We are God’s unwanted children? So be it!” the theatre of cruelty, “This is your pain! This is your burning hand! You have to know, not fear, know, that someday you’re going to die” while referencing Siva’s destruction of beauty and post-devestation liberation, “self improvement is masturbation, but self destruction…” “I felt like destroying something beautiful”, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we are to free to do anything.” (pegasusepsilon, 2010).
DISCLAIMER: the essay from here on in gets a bit personal towards who I am outside the internet. If you’d like to read further into what I’m trying to achieve as a performer and the influences that I embody, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org