PW Talks With Creator of “Dan Rottenberg Is Thinking About R@ping You”
Perhaps the strongest reaction to Broad Street Review editor Dan Rottenberg’s recent rape-victim-blaming editorial is in the theater community. Since BSR is one of the few places to get a show reviewed in this town, many theater and dance folks naturally read the publication regularly.
One such theater artist, 32-year-old Cara Blouin, was so outraged that she is staging theatrical response. She says the goal behind her production, Dan Rottenberg Is Thinking About R@ping You: An Educational Presentation, is to put Rottenberg’s ideas under the lights to be laughed at—exactly where they belong, she says. Here, we talk with Blouin about her new piece.
PW: How did you first come across the inspiration for your new theater piece?
Blouin: Actually, it’s kind of great because a lot of women in the theater community read it and shrugged and said, ‘Well, here’s this again, something we’re used to hearing’ but so many of our male friends were posting and reposting saying, ‘This is outrageous and we don’t want to be depicted this way.’ So it was men in the theater community who were outraged that he was saying they were animals and couldn’t control themselves. We were galvanized by the fact that our male friends were some great allies. The thing that bothers me most about the article is that it’s being called ‘controversial’ as if it’s something we should all debate. If people say it was terrible, yes. But to say it’s controversial opens up a whole other argument because to me there’s no controversy.
How did it come to you interpret his column as a theater presentation?
The tone of it is so paternalistic and condescending that it reminded me of those assemblies we had in school where the fireman would come and tell you not to plug too many things in the outlet. It sounded like someone talking to children. The article itself is inherently theatrical, the way it’s worded, ‘Earth to liberated women!’ Immediately I imagined it as a presentation from him, offering his advice as a five-step program to avoiding sexual assault. This is going to be a funny, 20-to-25-minute show but what’s really going to happen is everyone’s going to go upstairs and get a drink and say, ‘What can we do about this?’ and ‘What does this actually mean?’
Tell us a bit about the show.
I’ve taken the text and expanded it into a satirical interpretation, because just reading the text of the article didn’t get it across as theatrical as I wanted to. I’m literally right now typing the last few lines. There’s a huge outpouring of support that’s like, ‘How can I get into this,’ ‘How can I help?’ I’m sort of afraid because I feel like a moment is going to happen when someone calls me out and I’m waiting for that shoe to drop.
What do you mean by that?
Somebody’s going to say I should take sexual assault more seriously. Rape and sexual assault are definitely not funny. However, I think the only thing that makes me feel better when I feel terrified by reading something like [Rottenberg’s article] or living in an environment created by something like that is to hear a room of people laughing about it. You can argue and argue and all someone has to do is say one quick condescending thing and your argument falls away. But if all these people are laughing at it, it puts it in the place where it belongs. I think every woman has been in the position of trying to explain why this kind of thing is not OK and knows how frustrating it is to try to explain it. Satire gets at it much more closely.
Dan Rottenberg Is Thinking About R@ping You: An Educational Presentation screens at 10 p.m. this Saturday, June 25, at Plays & Players, with drinks and informal discussion to follow afterward at Quig’s Pub.