home // KILROY WAS HERE //
“As adults, we are conditioned by our overly dramatized perspective, by the media, by ourselves, into black and white thinking: ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. The refreshing thing about a child’s gaze is that it is not coloured by the need for ‘dramatic interpretation’, because that view of things does not connect to their own life. And if it does connect to their own life, it is tackled through imagination.”
Carly Wijs, playwright
18th March 2018
Graduate No-case Showcase, Manuel Vason Studio, 8-10 Rhoda Street, London, E2 7EF
A ten hour durational performance, based around play and conflict, using audience participation as a key mechanism for creating the performance. Audience experience an ever present childish being with a harrowing, distinct look of a soldier. They are presented with confetti, crayons and games, whilst writing letters to whomever they like on military free post BFPOs. Simultaneously, the letters are handed to random spectators. They are instructed not to open them till they have left the performance. Then the day culminates in a childish game of SPLAT!, where people are pretend shot, until it culminates in KILROY being shot and an explosion of blood.
A DRAMATURGICAL ANALYSIS
We live in a world where children are growing up faster and faster due, usually blamed on the accessibility of knowledge and over-exposure, however it is infact the pressure of the world that we live in that murders childish imagination: not an early exposure to porn for example. This piece focussed on a very specific pressure placed on children: society's standards reinforced by the adults around them. An adult in the care of a child, unarguably, influences who a child grows into. This is why we can see correlations between serial killers and their upbringings, specifically coming from low income families and a presence of psychosocial stressors on them at a young age. This however reaches further than a parent/guardian but to all of the adults and their opinions in their lives, i.e. teachers. This can lead to the influence of one sided opinions and bias on a child's imagination and what they perceive to be 'right' and 'wrong' using the context of war. The aim was to create a harrowing performance opening the eyes of participants to the effects of these such influences of the malleable imagination of a child.
There are two texts associated with KILROY WAS HERE. One of which is written before the performance, the other from the aftermath; one by the performer themselves, the other by the audience. This creates an interesting dynamic between the two, and they evidence of conflict in themselves. The first is militaristic, with its likeness to a modern British Army orders sequence. The second, although written on a military document is forced to look childlike from the use of crayons and felt tips. Even more conflict can be recognised when we look at the level of preparation one took compared to the other. The text written prior to the performance require planning and even involves preparation points, whereas the later texts rely on the ‘spur of the moment’ feeling of the audience. So before we even look at the content of the actual texts we can tell that this is a piece firmly routed in the confines of the theme of conflict.
The use of imitation of military style forms of communication from the British Army, as well as the uniform associated with this particular military place this piece very much in the Western parts of the world, with a focus on the most developed country. This raises interesting questions about the current threat of terrorism and this fear of the radicalisation of children. Many people may be reminded of the idea of child soldiers. The idea of it being a current problem is concurred by the use of the most current newspaper at the time. However, the page that is used raises further interest. The use of an article discussing a court case where a marine was relieved of murder brings to mind questions of morality, murder and right versus wrong.
The use of tape on the face is a simple allegorical image for the lack of voice for your inner child and your sense of wonderment. It also helps to create a harrowing image when you compare the uniform with the mannerisms of the child. The events of the performance are most shocking when an audience member pretends to shoot KILROY. A dark liquid, reminiscent of blood, beginnings to pour out through the shirt, covering everything from the waste down including their hands. This image is at first shocking after the ten hour durational performance. However, it gets worse when this child like being begins to play with it and then realising it hurts disappears. All is left is a pile of crayons, a toy gun, confetti, wrapped BFPOs ready to be posted and a small pool of blood. This left installation ultimately sums up the performance, with the stark comparison between the seemingly harmless and the harmed. Images are evoked of the death of your inner child to the ‘real’ world and as you leave these objects no longer mean anything to you. They are just remnants of what was once there.