Dear Sven Gatz,

Even if we don’t know each other, we share one thing in common, which is our given name. The one that we are proud of, and according to the old Norse language it is translated as a young man or young warrior. So please allow me to be informal and personal as man to man or a warrior to warrior.

A Warrior, a term that is known to every person in every culture throughout all the known history, but sadly, mostly for its bloody and tragic connotation. The country I come from, Croatia, updates its meaning every 50 years, sometimes even less. When I was a kid I used to listen to heroic and legendary stories about 40’s and when I grew a little bit older I started to experience them in real time. After everything has finished, people started to call it Life. Life as it had to be, but with the clear idea that only possible future solution is peace and pacifism so that the Warrior stays in myths and history, where it always should have belonged.

I never thought I will become a Warrior myself, but it was through the work with Jan which changed my mind. After all the experience I had, I deliberately became a Warrior of beauty, the term that Troubleyn performers are known by. In the holy war against pulp and bad art on the battlefield of theatre. Maybe this allegory can be perceived as pompous and pretentious but it reflects the seriousness of Jan’s theatre vision.

Whoever came across Jan’s interview or had a chance to work with him, knows how much time and energy he spends on creating something unusual and whoever saw his artwork definitely can’t stay indifferent, no matter the aesthetics. And the way he does it is sometimes so demanding that you have to question yourself if that is the right way to treat something that could be treated just like a regular job. A job that would get the work done but who would care. The alternative, not to be just a common worker, ambitiously or not, asks you to sign the unwritten treaty which requires physical, mental and emotional exposure but in return gives you the feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment.

So if this would be the base for good art, then you have Troubleyn who brings it even on the higher level, forging the Warrior of beauty. Almost chasing the idea of renaissance man, demanding completeness in all the segments of a performer. Giving you the chance to be truthful on stage as well as behind the lights, by building and provoking personal responsibility and expanding knowledge and general awareness.

This forge basically means that in process of rehearsals you are at least five out of seven days completely immersed into the subject, doing workouts in the morning and working on physical material later in the day on stage, and in the meantime you have to think and rethink about the significance of the scenes and then during the night read something more about it. But when it comes to the play and performing it, besides the time-consuming rehearsals, you are taking part in pretalks and after talks on topics reflecting the subject of performance, and sometimes performances are four and sometimes for twenty-four hours long. Did I say we also do eat?

One can say that only a crazy person would like to create that kind of atmosphere and even be crazier to participate, and maybe he would be right. Sometimes you can’t say who is a bigger lunatic, we the Warriors or Jan „the general“. At least we have an option to quit (we didn’t), but in Jan’s case, he doesn’t have an option to go away from his mad perfectionism, which eventually leads to such acclaimed pieces.

On this battlefield of creativity, through highly emotional and physically intense work, both for him and performers, there is not always place for political correctness. As a leader, Jan sometimes tries to awake sleepy minds by provoking them, wishing to meet his standards, which are nothing less than being the best. And of course, it happens also other way around (but he never complained). I have never felt that what was said in those moments crossed the boundaries of good taste. And in the times when it was directed to me, I would found it motivational and strangely humorous because of Jan’s straight forward personality. Creating a disciplined system that in a greater picture would be called Life, you know what it is expected from you and if you are missing it, you should work harder, but if you are good there is always a prize, and in Jan’s world, he also never misses the chance to reward you.

In these days of political correctness and lack of discipline, I can understand that not everyone had a chance to build up, to participate fully in Life as it is. That people can easily get offended and hide in the safe spaces, but my general question is if we would even like to live in a system where everybody has a right not to get offended? And the amount of offense triggers is expanding. It doesn’t of course mean that we should take advantage of our positions and offend just for the sake of it, but that is again good taste, which Jan never lacked.

During my last seven years spent in Troubleyn, I can say that it is the place unlike any other, the one that gives you the freedom to explore, perform beyond the limits and experience further. The place that opens a dialogue. The place where performers with different backgrounds, from various countries and different ages, make such a coherent group of friends and colleagues. The place where everybody works as an art army in the fight for truthfulness.

I stand with the fight against discrimination, sexism and power abuse but also strongly support Jan Fabre and Troubleyn since I have never experienced it there.

Sincerely yours,
Sven Jakir
The Power of Theatrical Madness (Re-enactment 2012-2015)
Mount Olympus (2014-2018)