December 29, 2015
I am writing to inform you and Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford that The Egyptian Theatre in Park City, one of the film festival’s main venues, has been perpetuating homophobia, racism, and transphobia and thus is blatantly against the Sundance Festival’s vision statement, which aims to "spark new levels of empathy and understanding, and even lead to social change."
My family members have been regular patrons of The Egyptian for the past 8 years, and this past Saturday, December 27, we walked out of a show barely 15 minutes into the first act and will not return to The Egyptian in the future. I, an openly queer woman, was threatened and harassed by both the comic on stage and the manager of the theatre, Randy Barton.
The comic, Gallagher, opened with sexist, rape- apologist assertions not part of any jokes, saying, "You don’t listen to what a woman has to say," and "Begging isn’t foreplay, she will never give in, so don’t listen."
He continued with a litany of racism: "Why are there no Walmarts in Iraq? Because they’re all Targets," and "Why is there no Facebook in China? Because there’d only be one picture." He went on to say the main problem in America is "people who can’t decide what they are." He explained this by calling "Bruce" Jenner (he misgendered and mis- named Caitlyn Jenner in a hostile anti- trans rant) a "spork," and said, "What are we doing now, that we can just slap a pair of breasts on a man and say he’s a woman? Now you’re a girl, now you aren’t, now you are, now you aren’t. It’s like that old sitcom, ‘Father Knows Breast.’"
It was at this point I walked out, shaking and scared for my safety. As we tried to leave the theatre inconspicuously, Gallagher stopped talking, stared, and then mocked us for being weak and afraid in front of the whole audience. Maybe Mr. Barton and other executives of The Egyptian were not aware of the extent of hatred in Gallagher’s act. I am not convinced of this, however. It is the executive’s prerogative to research performers to be at least mildly sure that they are not spouting pure unadulterated hatred on stage.
Moreover, as we left the lobby, Mr. Barton asked what was wrong, and we told him Gallagher doesn’t belong here, doesn’t belong in the open, accepting community The Egyptian claims to be, and to just listen to him if he (Mr. Barton) wanted to understand
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I have sent a letter to Mr. Randy Barton to ask him to cease showing Gallagher’s act, as it is set to play all through this week, and possibly longer. He has ignored this reasonable request. The Egyptian has proved itself hostile to your core values. It is sexist in an era of your Women Filmmakers Initiative. It is racist against your Native American and Indigenous Program and international film festival offshoots and directors of colour. It is homophobic towards any queer directors showing LGBTQ movies and is complicit in nurturing communal hatred towards at-risk individuals. The Egyptian Theatre, and any other affiliations Mr. Randy Barton has with the Sundance Film Festival, should be eradicated from the Festival showings. The Egyptian is a dangerous institution to your initiatives involving diversity, women, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals of different races. The Egyptian does not respect the Sundance Institute.