Former Dior head designer John Galliano will hang by a thread Tuesday night, Feb. 4, when the puppet show Little John Talks plays at the London College of Fashion. In it though, Galliano is merely a two-feet-tall puppet dressed like Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (the same look the real Galliano wore to close his spring/summer 2007 couture show). In a new play by writer Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, the contrite puppet sits across from an interviewer, who alternates between being the good cop and bad cop, and encourages Little John to “talk about it.”
Much like Galliano’s own recent media exchanges, their conversation is ridiculously rehearsed. The six-act, 20-minute play takes its cue from Galliano's appearance on the Charlie Rose show last summer. That appearance and his interview with Ingrid Sischy for Vanity Fair constituted the latest phase of what New York Magazine has called Galliano’s “epic apology tour” -- following the designer’s anti-Semitic tirade at a Parisian bar and his summary dismissal from the house of Dior in 2010.
In his TV conversation with Galliano, Rose seemed to fail to get behind the velvet rope and interrogate the situation meaningfully -- and Sischy’s piece wasn’t must better. “They were infuriating, those interviews,” says Aronowsky Cronberg, the playwright and a senior research fellow at London College of Fashion. “They were just PR motions.” Cronberg developed the sarcastic play to accompany the fourth issue -- themed "Fashion and Power" -- of her indie fashion journal Vestoj. “The effigy of John Galliano,” the invitation promises, “talks about forgiveness and atonement, the constant rewriting of our past, and why those who tell the story hold the power.”
Last spring, Parsons announced a master class to be taught by Galliano. But the school canceled the workshop following criticism, and Galliano has remained tightlipped since the Charlie Rose appearance.
At one point in the play, the puppeteer says, "It's like you can hear his publicist yelling on the sidelines," breaking the fourth wall. He lifts a glass of water to the puppet's mouth. "Wait," the interviewer says, "isn't this the part where you're supposed to be crying?"
Little John Talks can be seen for free, but guests must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.