Open direct letter to Jan Fabre: May 15, 2009
Jan, you missed the mark. You took aim at so many human sins and indulgences, and arranged them in a shocking, high-art fashion, and yet in the end, you said nothing, suggested nothing, and added nothing to what should be a grand conversation on awareness in the 21st century. The program says you were inspired by finding yourself sitting down, watching sex and violence, and not doing anything about it. But what did you make me, as your viewer? An American, sitting down, watching sex and violence, and doing nothing. The mere fact that you put on your show for audiences that appreciate it completely defeats the purpose of an such intrusive, insulting and presumptive production. Slap us in the face and we applaud you. What good does that do? What are we supposed to gain from Orgy of Tolerance? How should we feel changed? We are fully aware that racism, sexism, rape, pornography, war, greed, image obsession, and consumerism are dangerous and rampant in our world. But your piece didn't start a conversation; it shut it up. Sitting there, with my girlfriend, watching a man spout bigotry while sticking a rifle in his ass...well, you just made us feel dirty, without any reason or benefit. I'm not an audience member upset because you pushed my buttons: I LOVE performances that push my buttons. Why else would I come to On the Boards? But your show pushes the audience's buttons without care, without purpose, and without any compassion for the millions of people you lump into stereotypes through mockery and arrogance. Your material is as prejudiced as the bigots you seek to expose, and your recreations of torture and rape are as pointless as the original crimes you were so inspired by. I'm impressed you assembled a troupe of performers so dedicated, and my hats are off to them for their courage, but this is simply another theatrical experience I'm trying to forget. P.S. I still love you, On the Boards. When you take risks, you piss people off. Can't wait for next season.
- Ben Rapson