Invoking el Duende
The Danger Ensemble’s CAROLINE DUNPHY, co-devisor and performer for LOCO MARICON AMOR, spins surreal visions for ZENOBIA FROST.
ZENOBIA FROST: The promo image for Loco Maricon Amor is extraordinary. How does this portrait embody the performance?
CAROLINE DUNPHY: Let’s say, primarily, that this cubist-like portrait has a complex personality and is a burst of lustful sprite — an electric mind that has caught itself mid-flight or mid-dream . . . pure imaginative power.
ZF: If Dali were in Brisbane today, what would he paint? And if Lorca were writing in Queensland right now?
CD: Dali? I would have to say, even if in Brisbane, it could still only be his muse: his wife. And with Lorca, seeing he was more about “social action” — or in our case “female tragedy” — I could go a modern Queensland-set Rural Trilogy sequel. If he just collated a book of selfquotes, I’d be happy.
ZF: Tell me about the passions of the poet, Lorca, and the artist, Dali, as told through the show.
CD: They were passionate about a lot of things — but where we think they meet in this show is in revolt, revolution, love, death and sex (although from very different angles). They were both essential anarchists in very different ways.
ZF: The Danger Ensemble invokes el duende — the spirit of evocation or the soul of a work of art. How does el duende reflect The Danger Ensemble’s manifesto?
CD: Duende is a core interior motive for the Danger Ensemble in both creation and performance. Creation in the sense of the birth of the company and its need to speak to modern audiences, and then creation — through directorial vision — in the making of the work. This creation is highly explorative and organic in its processes. In terms of performance, I see it as how the performer conjures up the dark energy within and then expresses it foremost through the body. For me, the direct line lies in “the struggle” and how we desire and embody it — as actors, as creatives, and then as audience. In that comes — as I read once and the words have never left me — “an authentic sense of danger.”
ZF: Duende suggests a return to art/performing art as something otherworldly. Did the show arise out of an exploration of this Spanish concept, or perhaps vice versa?
CD: The concept of duende is a major influence and runs through all of the Danger Ensemble’s work but it is this particular work that allows us to tackle it directly. For Steven, our director, it began with reading Lorca’s writing — reading so much of Lorca in his women and feeling an affinity with them. The women in Loco Maricon Amor play an important part in this sense. In researching his life and his relationships and the speculation regarding Lorca and Dali, the core investigation arose: the collision between tragedy and surrealism. Loco was born.
ZF: You have a background in Suzuki training, another tradition that can have an otherworldly hold over an audience and their responses. With this in mind, what are your personal aims when making performance art?
CD: My background in the Suzuki Actor Training Method with Frank Theatre (Jacqui Carroll & John Nobbs) has had a profound effect, not only in terms of attaining distinctive skills through a more physical approach to acting, but in its philosophical approach to the actor’s process. We learn awareness of “presence” and over time this deepening knowledge infiltrates a sense of “other”. This opens up a whole new range of possibilities as an actor and creator.
ZF: In what ways was surrealism revolutionary in the 20s? Almost a century on, do we need another such movement to wake us up?
CD: A new dynamism needs to burst forward, indeed, and will increase more so in this political climate, I think. I may be dreaming, but at present, I feel immense creativity in the air . . . “The eye exists in its wild state” (Breton).
ZF: What kind of lasting impression will The Danger Ensemble’s Dali and Lorca leave upon us in Brisbane?
CD: Their lust and longing for desire — in all its simplicity and complexity . . .
ZENOBIA FROST (@zenfrost) is an Australian writer, critic, and poet. She is the arts editor (and founding member) of OffStreet Press. She is fond of strange myths, incisive verse, theatre, graveyards, tea, and editing.