Focus on: Being Dead (Don Quixote)

Kerith Manderson-Galvin chats about following literature's first hero

feature (adelaide) | Read in About 3 minutes
Published 17 Feb 2020
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Kerith Manderson-Galvin

Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote is often hailed as the first modern novel and is the defining piece of literature from the Spanish Golden Age. It's a tale that blurs fantasy with reality and told through the eyes of our titular ‘hero’.

Artist and writer Kerith Manderson-Galvin is adapting the novel for the Fringe. They were enthralled by Quixote’s ability to make space for himself and create an alternate reality. "I really romanticised the idea of Don Quixote as someone who is building a world where he gets to be the hero despite how anyone else sees him and despite his failings at being a hero," says Manderson-Galvin. They found parallels with their own journey in the modern world.

"There’s a connection between that and the queer identity and the feminine identity for me – it’s like a queer person always being on their edge and failing to participate properly with reality. That’s what’s beautiful for me. Imagine a world now where a queer person gets to be a hero,” they say.

Within Being Dead (Don Quixote), Manderson-Galvin creates their dream world. "Essentially, I'm trying to build another world," they say. "I want it to be soft and beautiful! It's fragile, it's full of feelings and it’s always changing. Instead of me or Don Quixote trying to fit and succeed in the world we have, I'm creating a world that fits me. 

"Instead of me 'coming out' and me participating in 'normal' life – I'm inviting the audience into this reality and inviting them to imagine different ways of living and being heroic."

Manderson-Galvin has experienced issues with their queer and feminine identity and being misrecognised. Social divisions of masculine versus feminine or queer versus straight have informed the exploration of femininity within the work.

"I’m trying to find a way to fit into softness and into weakness and I hope an audience can come into that space with me, which is also what I hope with my identity," they say. "I think softness is a really beautiful thing. My experience and my queer identity is a very strong line in the work, and is really strongly connected with Don Quixote and his misrecognition with the rest of the world and his experience of it."

"If I could say anything about my identity and the show to a potential audience I would say a quote from Cervantes: 'Thou hast seen nothing yet.'"