Glass Dec 6, 2013
by Dylan Ward
Sometimes I think back to community college sociology seminars; discussing how social problems are constructed. A problem is not a problem until it is made into a problem. The issue of an “issue” performance is the issue of why an issue is being made into an issue.
What came first; the chicken or the egg? The snake or the apple?
Dayna Hanson has a remarkable ability to raise an issue on transparent platforms. Her gift to the audience is herself and her cast, visibly raising it, whatever it is.
Clay Duke’s issue with his hostages (on YouTube, search “Clay Duke” and you should be able to find the video) could be described as the great unfairness of all things. Dayna’s issue is Duke.
Dayna and co. tenderly approach Duke and those involved with Duke, mimicking everything, each turn of the head, smirk, shuffle, lilt. This is an extreme empathy; to almost walk in Duke’s shoes. They construct vignettes of evil discussing evil, snakes discussing lunch, a woman discussing her purse. They break character and bear themselves.
Each vignette carefully constructs an issue.
As each passes, we get to know, perhaps, what Duke knew from his own mimicking. Dayna speculates that Duke is a product of Charles Bronson, or perhaps from the semi-recent film V for Vendetta, or perhaps is a struggling Chekhovian thinker who knows his suicide to be his most efficient solution.
Somehow, The Clay Duke names a thing that doesn’t have a name. Duke’s ramblings make sense in whole context.
“I’m going to die today,” he says, before rattling off his obligations. He is begged to explain himself, but he already is explaining himself, a preamble.
Wikipedia describes the phrase “swan song” as a performance given just before death, based on the ancient belief that swans remain silent most of their life and sing once before dying.
So, maybe that’s what it is.
It is a generous, giving act to attempt to figure exactly how generous another person feels when they are doing something very important.