Quebec director Robert Lepage cancelled his controversial production Kanata in July after some of the North American co-producers withdrew from the project. (Théâtre du Soleil) Quebec director Robert Lepage’s play about the relationship between First Nations and white settlers in Canada will be staged in Paris after all, weeks after it was cancelled amid widespread criticism over a lack of Indigenous representation.
In a statement today, the Théâtre du Soleil in Paris said it would stage the play, Kanata , after it came to an agreement with Lepage.
It will be staged under the title, Kanata – Épisode I — La Controverse , the theatre said. It’s unclear whether that is the original version.
"Once the show will be staged and out in the open, its detractors will be free to criticize it aptly," its statement read.
Lepage’s production company, Ex Machina, cancelled Kanata in late July after some of its North American co-producers withdrew financial support for the project.
In a statement this afternoon, Ex Machina said the play was being staged with the Paris theatre’s own funds and "with the help of Robert Lepage, who will direct the production without renumeration and in a personal capacity."
The company directed all questions about the content and production of the play to the Théâtre du Soleil. It also said Lepage, who is in Moscow, is not available to provide any interviews. Disappointment after production cancelled
The initial decision to cancel the production came after the play drew criticism from Indigenous academics, actors, writers and activists in Quebec, who slammed the fact the production did not include Indigenous performers in an open letter.
"Our invisibility in the public space, on the stage, doesn’t help us," the letter said.
Some Indigenous artists said they were disappointed when the production was cancelled, saying they wanted to collaborate with Lepage on the play.
The play was supposed to be staged in North America after its run in Paris. It’s unclear if that is still the case.
Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, was among a group of Indigenous activists who met with Lepage to discuss their concerns earlier this summer.
Their goal was never to shut down the play, but rather, to get Indigenous input into the production, she said.
The news the play is going to be staged in Paris brings things "back to square one," she told CBC News today.
"Without our input, I don’t know what kind of a play it’s going to be. Again, we’re back to square one where we’re going to try to have a conversation," she said.
Nakuset said she and other Indigenous activists remain open to having a dialogue with Lepage."It’s always been about communication and just trying to express the importance of Indigenous peoples telling their stories." Lepage’s SLĀV production also cancelled Another Lepage production, SLĀV, also drew controversy this summer. The Montreal International Jazz Festival cancelled that production amid widespread criticism.The show, performed by lead singer Betty Bonifassi and a predominantly white cast, was described as "a theatrical odyssey based on slave songs," but critics accused it of cultural appropriation. Kanata is set to be staged at the Théâtre du Soleil from Dec. 15, 2018 to Feb. 17, 2019.The theatre said it would "work tirelessly to try to build indispensable bonds of mutual confidence and esteem with the representatives of Aboriginal artists, wherever they are."Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée, who last week said a PQ government would try to help get Kanata on the stage, welcomed the theatre’s decision today."People are free to watch, judge, detest or love Kanata . This is a victory for artistic freedom," Lisée said. With files from […]
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