Beyond Dirt Knees is an investigation of my history and sexuality. The performance builds itself around a specific experience I had with an older man nearly three times my age. Through media, memories and movement, Beyond Dirt Knees speaks of family, self and sex as it asks: How is one’s language of identity written? Is identity malleable or is it set from childhood? How does experience fit into the manifestation of self? It is these experiences, and only them, which have made us who we are today, why would we ever want to take them back?
In July 2012, Beyond Dirt Knees was performed in Seoul at Gallery Jungdabang Project in the Mullae Arts Village. Written and performed by Ryan M. McKelvey with co-direction by Zoya Sardashti, it was a Home Soil project. All of the proceeds from this production were donated to the Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group, Chingusai.
Beyond Dirt Knees is made up of impressions and stories I’ve revisited in different forms. What began as creative nonfiction in 2005/06 and exists as several poems was then produced as a one-act play for the Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival in 2007. In Seoul, it took its current manifestation as a solo show performed for a seated audience, and I feel good about this form. There is an outside presence within the piece, which in Seoul was performed by Gordon Trites, who relives memories with me; whether or not He speaks, I want His presence known.