Orgy of Tolerance

Orgy of Tolerance

Modern revue

Back in Scotland with his uncompromising new show Orgy of Tolerance, Flemish artist Jan Fabre tells Kelly Apter why he hates fake orgasms

A quick glance at the poster for Jan Fabre’s latest show, Orgy of Tolerance tells you the Belgian artist clearly isn’t afraid to push people’s buttons. On it, a bearded, long-haired performer stands wearing Y-fronts, a gold-link chain and a crucifix slung over his back. As far as Fabre is concerned, however, using Jesus in his publicity material is nothing compared to what’s beamed into our living rooms every night.

‘When you sit on your sofa at home in the evening and watch television,’ says Fabre, ‘you see so much perversity and violence, such extreme excess, that as an artist you cannot top it.’ Featuring music, dancers and actors, Orgy of Tolerance came about after two separate, but often connected, worlds increasingly gave Fabre cause for concern – sex and politics.

‘I live in the Flemish side of Belgium,’ explains Fabre. ‘A country where the extreme right is getting so many votes, yet people are tolerant of it. They accept this and it becomes normality to hear these people talk openly everyday.’ Meanwhile, the small screen was making Fabre hot under the collar – for all the wrong reasons.

‘On every TV channel after midnight in Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany you get fake orgasms,’ says Faber. ‘They sell telephone sex or movies – but none of it is real. They’ve even taken away the idea of pornography or sexuality because it’s all become so fake. So much of politics and society is about selling fake orgasms, so that’s the reason for the title – Orgy of Tolerance.’

Over the past 25 years, Fabre has been one of the most imaginative forces in contemporary theatre and art. A performance artist, director, choreographer, playwright and visual artist, Fabre has many strings to his bow – all of which he channels into his productions. For this surreal new show, he’s broken the action down into bite-size chunks, fusing music, drama and dance.

‘I decided to approach the piece almost like a revue,’ says Fabre. ‘Because a revue can re-see things in a humorous, satirical way. So we used the Monty Python sketches to guide us and old revues from the 1940s and 50s. Which allowed us to approach the tragedy of today in a very ironic way.’

For Fabre, art is much more than entertainment – it’s a tool to reach people with. What does he hope the audience will take away from Orgy of Tolerance? ‘The same thing I hope with every work I create,’ he says. ‘That I can help people to look and think in a different way, or even cure the wounds they have in their minds.’

Despite Fabre’s anxiety about excess consumption, intolerance and general moral decay, he remains hopeful that all is not lost. ‘I believe in humankind,’ says Fabre. ‘And I believe in our brain. With this 250 grams of grey mass we haven’t done too badly for millions of years and I believe that the younger generation will try to change things. So the end of our show is a celebration of life and has a message of hope.’

Orgy of Tolerance, Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 10 & Sat 11 Apr.

Orgy of Tolerance

In this new production, Jan Fabre explores the boundaries of normality, with music, dancers and actors. We're promised an absurd, surreal performance of excess, hurting and tickling (at the same time, it says here).

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