Last month, Théâtre du Rideau Vert In Quebec held their year-end show, "Revue et Corrigée." It featured a series of skits, including one that had an actor portraying Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban. And, of course, he was portrayed by an actor in blackface.
We say “of course” because this is apparently what the theater does, according to Pat Donnelly, the theater critic for the Montreal Gazette. "I’ve gone for many years and I must say this year I almost didn’t go because I had some concerns that I would once again see a white performer in blackface with a bad Afro wig trying to pretend they’re a black person, because it’s been frequently done with this show in the past,” Donnelly told CBC News.
It’s a tradition in Quebec theater, but that doesn’t mean it should continue to be one. Which is why a group of artists in Montreal had decided to speak up and slam the theater for its portrayal of Subban, who unfortunately had to deal with this crap:
Quincy Armorer, artistic director at the Black Theatre Workshop, is among those who signed the letter to Théâtre du Rideau Vert.
“I think it’s not so much about pointing fingers at any particular organization or person who is doing it. I think we’re just calling for the importance of a discussion, and why the practice is outdated and really needs to stop,” Armorer told CBC Radio's Daybreak Montreal.
“People have a choice to use this practice that is rooted in racism, or they have a choice to not use it.”
The theater had remained silent about this issue for the last few weeks, but finally spoke up to La Presse, which was probably a mistake. From CBC News:
Artistic director Denise Filiatrault told Montreal's La Presse newspaper that the portrayal of Subban “wasn’t blackface.”
Filiatrault said she was “shocked, outraged, and humiliated” by the reaction. The 83-year-old said she has been in the business for 60 years and was the first person to hire a black Quebecer on television. She said didn't want to hire a black actor to play Subban for 12 seconds in her year-end show because her theatre couldn't afford it.
Well, one can’t really put a price on avoiding unconscionable racism in 2015, can they?
Hopefully the attention given to this “tradition” brings it to its end, like it hopefully did the whole “blackface at the Bell Centre” a few years ago.