SLAV director speaks out over show's cancelation

The director of the controversial show SLAV is speaking out, calling the decision to cancel the show censorship.

"I would like to emphasize the fact that Betty Bonifassi, her singers, the Ex Machina team and I were aware from the beginning of the project that we were taking on a sensitive subject and that it was our responsibility to work to create this show with diligence, respect, honesty and integrity" wrote Robert Lepage. "As long as the show was being performed, it was speaking for itself and we didn't have anything to add to the debate."

"But now that SLAV has been officially muzzled, we have to use another way to communicate."

The show was criticized because it features a white woman singing songs composed by black slaves.

Lepage said that theatre is about pretending to be someone else while stepping into their shoes to try and understand them. "When [theatre] is forbidden to identify with someone else, theatre is denied its very nature; it is prevented from performing its primary function and is thus rendered meaningless."

He admitted that new shows comes with their fair share of misfires and bad choices, but those can be resolved over time. Lepage said SLAV is being robbed of its chance to evolve into a fine tuned show.

"To me, what is most appalling is the intolerant discourse heard both on the street and in some media. Everything that led to this cancellation is a direct blow to artistic freedom," he wrote.

"Over the course of my career, I have devoted entire shows denouncing injustices done throughout history to specific cultural groups, without actors from said groups" he continued. "These shows have been performed all over the world, in front of very diverse audiences, without anyone accusing me of cultural appropriation, let alone of racism."

Earlier this week singer Moses Sumney canceled a show, saying he was disappointed that "SLAV" had been booked by the festival organizers.

Not long after festival organizers canceled the show after three performances and apologized to those who were hurt.

"If it were up to me, the show would still be running, for I will always demand the right for theatre to talk about anything and anyone" Lepage said.

Lepage has the support of Parti-Quebecois leader Jean-Francois Lisee who also called the cancelation of the show censorship.