After “SLĀV”, the TNM will be “much better at listening”

Après «SLĀV», le TNM sera «beaucoup plus à l’écoute»

Photo: Marie-France Coallier The Duty
The collective SLAV Resistance met with the press on Wednesday to state its grievances and its demands.

Lorraine Pintal, do not doubt it : “there will be a before and an after-SLĀV “. The general and artistic director of the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (TNM) promises and a kick bar to make the stage of the TNM that is more representative of the cultural diversity.

“I’m totally supportive of [the work] of Robert Lepage and Betty Bonifassi,” said Ms. Pintal in an interview Wednesday with The Duty. “But at the same time, we are going to now be much more ready to listen to what this community [african-montreal] send as a message and give him more room on our stages. We are going to create opportunities. “

She continues : “It’s going to be a part of our mandate over the next few years, you can be assured. “

This is not the first time that Ms. Pintal promises a greater plurality of voices at the TNM. In the spring of 2017, it was announced “significant changes to the TNM” in this matter. A four-year plan had been discussed and actions have been taken in this direction, provided it on Wednesday (including a recent meeting of the twelve directors and twenty-five actors from diverse backgrounds).

Après «SLĀV», le TNM sera «beaucoup plus à l’écoute»

Photo: Guillaume Levasseur Duty
Lorraine Pintal

But the controversy around SLĀV has nevertheless been a ” trigger, which has become so political, and even international level : we talk about here in Avignon, where she is currently located for the OFF festival in Avignon. A consciousness that is more brutal, in short.

The TNM has been taken indirectly in the turmoil of SLĀV. This show of Robert Lepage and Betty Bonifassi wanted to be an ” odyssey theatre through the songs of the slaves, but it has been the target of criticism around the concept of cultural appropriation — especially because it only included two singers black on six.

The show was part of the programming of the Festival international de jazz de Montréal (FIJM) and was presented at the TNM (who has rented his room at the FIJM). But regardless of the role of each other in this folder, Ms. Pintal believes that the conversation refers to the institution that she directs, since 1992.

“When we were approached, we were very enthusiastic […] and opened the door only guessing that the show would arouse so much controversy and polemic,” says Lorraine Pintal.

We opened our doors in not guessing that the show would arouse so much controversy and polemic

— Lorraine Pintal

According to her, it is ” not a show as racist, far from it. But did he not open to criticism by giving the word of this story is sensitive and artists, predominantly white ? Ms. Pintal provides shade.

“As we talked about slavery a bit everywhere in the world, I never asked myself the question if there was a lack of artists black on the stage,” she said.


However, Ms. Pintal is said to be “sensitive” to the concerns raised by different members of the community afro-montreal. “I can’t judge the approach of Robert Lepage and Betty Bonifassi, I have too much respect for them, she said. Now, in the glow of what happened, if an other show of this type had to be redone, I imagine they are going to tame it otherwise. “

It considers that the opponents of the show — which was eventually cancelled by the FIJM because of an injury of Betty Bonifassi and concerns related to the safety of the spectators — have expressed a ” real hatred of people who have taken the word to their place without the “include”.

But all of it will makes things happen, develops. “I think that in the future, there will be inclusion of [these voices]. In any case, I speak on behalf of the TNM and it’s going to be inclusion. “

On the subject of cultural appropriation, Lorraine Pintal said to “understand” how some have reacted around SLĀV. But she believes that the concept is not inconsistent with the act theatre. “When we did The diary of Anne Frank [2015], we appropriated what happened at the time of the Holocaust. But it has established a link with the Holocaust Museum, and we had a relationship with the community [jewish]. It was a performance that spoke as much to French as to the jewish community. “

SLĀV Resistance

The output of Lorraine Pintal, in the context in which the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec has indicated that the events surrounding SLĀV ” feed the thoughts [that] would surely guide our next steps as an organization of public funding “.

The Canada Council for the arts, for its part, says “carefully follow this debate” and pledged to ” support best practices to promote diversity, inclusion and equity.”

As we were talking about slavery around the world, I never asked myself the question if there was a lack of artists black on the stage

— Lorraine Pintal

On Wednesday, the collective SLĀV Resistance has reiterated a list of seven requests addressed to different stakeholders of the society and the cultural milieu for the debate on cultural appropriation and the lack of representativeness of the scenes in quebec doesn’t stop at SLĀV.

The collective hopes in particular that the TNM is less “overwhelmingly white” in the future, and funding models of cultural productions to be reviewed to take into account the issue of cultural diversity.

SLĀV was the cataclysm of a conversation on race, racism, cultural appropriation and privilege white, which makes people feel uncomfortable, note the authors of the manifesto of the collective. It is normal to feel uncomfortable : this is a sign that the problematic behaviors are called into question. “

They also commended the FIJM for having said ” there is not enough listened to, and one wants to listen to you “, noted artist Lucas Charlie Rose.