John Jarboe: The Rose Garden

May 11, 2024–September 29, 2024

John Jarboe’s Rose: You Are Who You Eat, 2022. Photo credit: Christopher Ash.

“It’s not every day you learn you are a gender cannibal” 

When John Jarboe came out as trans, John’s aunt exclaimed: “ You had a twin in the womb. You ate her. That’s why you are the way you are!” This was a lot for John to swallow! 

The Rose Garden is an immersive performance space filled with video, music, and objects devoted to John’s consumed twin, named Rose. Visitors can weave their way through a multi-room domestic environment reimagining John’s gender journey. Through interaction with surrealist inspired video sculptures, visitors will discover a series of short films with original songs, hidden treats, and an immersive maze of memories and provocations. The experience culminates in a hang out space made by and for trans and queer communities that will serve as a site of performances and gatherings, including live cabaret, community conversations, and clothing swaps, throughout the run of the show.

As a drag artist, Jarboe is devoted to live performance—and cabaret in particular—as a means of creating a deep level of intimacy and trust between performer and audience. In The Rose Garden, her first solo museum exhibition, Jarboe seeks new ways of empowering visitors with agency that allows for a sense of narrative surprise, vulnerability, and catharsis. 

We invite you to nestle in, chew on your gender, and savor its morsels. Stay for seconds, won’t you?


The Fabric Workshop and Museum
1214 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Second Floor Gallery

See Where Rose Is Blooming Next

Rose: You Are Who You Eat

A true story of gender cannibalism, set to music

In this musical shrine to the consumed twin, named Rose, John welcomes you into a feast of gender through song, storytelling, and a full plate of wordplay.

CulturalDC Mobile Art Gallery
May 17–July 14 2024
Free and Open to the Public

Woolly Mammoth
June 3–23, 2024
Tickets on Sale

Conceived, Written, and Performed by John Jarboe
Compositions by Emily Bate, John Jarboe, Daniel de Jesús, Pax Ressler, Be Steadwell
Directed by MK Tuomanen
Music Directed by Emily Bate
Produced by The Bearded Ladies Cabaret

Theatrical Co-World Premiere with Woolly Mammoth, CulturalDC, La MaMa ETC, & FringeArts
From a commission by Works & Process at the Guggenheim

Rose was commissioned by Works & Process and developed in collaboration with The Bearded Ladies Cabaret. The work was created during the pandemic in Works & Process bubble residencies at Mount Tremper Arts and Bethany Arts Community, with the support of the Mellon Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation. Early iterations of Rose were presented by Works & Process in the Guggenheim Rotunda (2021) Guggenheim Theater (2022), and CulturalDC (2022.)

Artists in This Exhibition

About the Artist

American, born 1986. Lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. 

John Jarboe (she/her) is a director, performer, curator, and writer. As the founder of the Bearded Ladies Cabaret company and its Artistic Director, Jarboe has produce original works for Opera Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a BFA in Theatre. 

John has appeared locally with The Walnut Street Theatre (A Christmas CarolLove StoryVincent In BrixtonArsenic & Old Lace), Theatre Exile (Cock), People’s Light and Theatre (The Rainmaker), Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre (HamletAs You Like It) and The Wilma (Macbeth). Some favorite work includes turns as Julia Child in Inside Julia Child for Philadelphia FringeArts and as the title role in The Green Fairy Cabaret (Philly School of Circus and Kimmel Center) which she wrote and performed in as part of the inaugural Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA). She collaborated with Applied Mechanics Theatre Company in PortmanteauVaingloriousOverseers and Some Other Mettle, and was a recipient of the 2013 Performing Arts Fellowship from the Independence Foundation. In 2017, she received support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to present The Poison Cookie Jar, an interactive, web-based mapping project documenting the rich history and contemporary practice of cabaret around the world. 

About the Curator

The Rose Garden is organized by Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs DJ Hellerman and Director of Studio Operations Nami Yamamoto in collaboration with the artist and the FWM Studio team. 


Major support for John Jarboe: The Rose Garden has been generously provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Major support of FWM is provided by the Marion Boulton “Kippy” Stroud Foundation. FWM receives state art funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support is provided by Agnes Gund and the Board of Directors and Members of The Fabric Workshop and Museum.