In Paris, “Kanata” shakes the tragedy of missing aboriginal women

À Paris, «Kanata» agite le drame des femmes autochtones disparues

Photo: Michèle Laurent
Despite the realism of the whole, the show seeks, by a sense of the image and of the references carried in the art of painting aboriginal, to reach a visual language of dreamlike.


The actors of the Theatre du Soleil directed by Robert Lepage in Kanata , they received their first applause in Paris this weekend by offering a show scattered and cautious, who does not risk, nor silence its critics or to excite the other. Critique and debate.

A young prostitute with mohawk struggles to escape a fate that is toxic in the streets of the Downtown East Side of Vancouver. Not far from here, a French artist finally finds inspiration with the contact of this community broken. Played by actors of iranian origin or French rather than by artists of First Nations, the aboriginal characters created by Robert Lepage and Michel Nadeau has finally taken shape on the legendary stage of the Arsenal, Paris.

After the debates summer on the cultural appropriation and the invisibilisation of aboriginal artists, the show that was originally cancelled has been back on track by Ariane Mnouchkine, enthusiastic about the idea of telling a part of the aboriginal reality to its audience the Theatre of the Sun, entering also the first parisian performances in the Festival’s programming this fall. Kanata is alive and well, for better and for worse : neither really offensive nor particularly inspired, he will likely continue to feed the chronic.

The thread of a plot fragmented, which crosses the lives of the fauna of the Hastings street to that of a restorer of works of art and a police officer apprentice actor (among other things), the room was renamed Kanata. Episode 1 : The controversy, fact of the case of Robert Pickton and the tragedy of missing and murdered aboriginal women its main pivots drama, before grafting of the considerations on the art and cultural appropriation, replaying a part of the debate that has raged this summer about the shows SLĀV and Kanata.

An explosive material to flirt with decades of acculturation of First Nations. Lepage, attempting to reveal the voice of women and create a space of emotion deliverer. Despite the realism of the whole, the show also seeks, by a sense of the image and of the references carried in the art of painting aboriginal, to reach a visual language of dreamlike. However, it was beautiful to see and to understand the intentions, this show, which disperses as it gives us the impression of being constantly in the area of his plots and his characters, not avoiding a few shots.

Appropriating or not appropriating

Is this due to the process of creation almost devoid of dramaturgical support aboriginal ? Therefore ask of that question that kills. Since it is played by the actors of the Théâtre du Soleil, a troupe is a multicultural, unique in its kind, but in which there is no indigenous artist in Canada, Kanata is it an act of cultural appropriation ? Its representation of First Nations is truncated, problematic, incomplete ? Let’s say that it seems at first glance realistic, and avoids the most of the time the folklorization, but that it is devoid of depth and true historical perspective.

At least that is the analysis that make the filmmaker the abenaki Kim Obomsawin and the writer innu Maya Cousineau Mollen, are encountered at the output of the show. “We understand that the Theatre of the Sun is a permanent company, and the fact that no actor aboriginal has been hired, is not in itself catastrophic, analysis Kim Obomsawin. But I am convinced that an co-producer in the scene would have helped to enhance the characters, who are rather inconsistent. What I saw at the Factory confirms the fears of the aboriginal community. We involved would have really been able to make this piece work better. I have not seen, for example, critical discourse on the collective responsibility to the plight of murdered indigenous women. Everything remains in the first degree. “

The show attempts yet to say, untying a narrative thread until the drama of aboriginal residential schools, the obvious links between the systematic oppression of the past and that which continues insidiously today. “But it is clear that the piece does that to flirt with this idea without deepening it,” says the writer innu Maya Cousineau Mollen, who also raises questions about the representation of violence. “I would not recommend the show to indigenous families affected by the tragedy of the murdered women, because it presents [this reality] in a way too graphic and I really wonder what is the point dramatically that violence. It could have a devastating effect in Vancouver with a public that knows this fact intimately. “

How far can you go in the depiction of violence ? This is a question theatrical the millennium to which we will not find the answer today, but which takes on a particular meaning in the aboriginal context current.

The Lepage without tub

In a staging fragmented that toggles constantly space-time, Robert Lepage shows himself faithful to his dramaturgy usual, cinematic in his way of mapping the process of the assembly and link together the effects of transition and rupture by multiplying the change of scenery. However, here, this mechanism is not of deep meaning or do is rooted in any truth bounding : it has been known devices lepagiens more able to transcend the plots and the dialogues are sometimes too linear or too badins of the creator. The staging is well-behaved, in sum, for a about in the whole diffuse.

Remains a know-how, certain, that the admirers of Lepage, present in large numbers on the evening of the first, have not failed to applaud. Actress Sophie Faucher, cited by many media in montreal, up to many québec artists who have made the journey to Paris, some came to applaud also the triumph of the freedom of creation. The parisian critics, yet discreet at the time of putting this article to press, has for the moment left up to the rave reviews of the Figaro, which was seen as a show of ” masterful and dark “.

Share Button