The Montreal International Jazz Festival is denying that its decision to cancel a controversial show featuring a white woman singing songs composed by black slaves was an act of censorship.
Festival CEO Jacques-Andre Dupont says the decision to cancel the remaining presentations of SLĀV on Wednesday was made both for security concerns and because the show’s star, Betty Bonifassi, was injured and indicated she was no longer in a position to continue.
Dupont says the festival accepts part of the responsibility for the controversy surrounding the play, which was the subject of protests over what critics called its appropriation of black culture and history.
While the festival doesn’t control the content of shows, Dupont says organizers are taking the criticism to heart and reflecting on what needs to change in the future.
The play’s director has criticized the decision to cancel the show, calling it a direct blow to artistic freedom.
Robert Lepage said in a statement on Friday that someone playing someone else or pretending to be someone else is one of the basic principles of theatre.