Over 75 protestors gathered at a terrasse outside of a downtown theatre last evening that was set to showcase a sold-out performance by the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The protestors chanted words such as "shame" at the evening diners waiting for the show to start.
The reason being for this rough start to the first show of the festival is that some are offended by the entire cast being comprised of white actors and musicians, while the songs being sung were originally composed by black slaves. The organizer of the protest elaborates by declaring the show as "a racist appropriation of black culture."
The show itself is called SLĀV, and it's the most popular show in all of the Montreal Jazz Festival, the theatre has added an extra 11 shows to the schedule after the first five were quickly sold out. As of now, there have not been any cancellations of SLĀV, as well as the rest of the Montreal Jazz Festival.
The show's premise invokes ideas of the history of racism, opression, migration and incarceration, so needless to say it is already a controversial and touchy topic to turn into a performance.
In attempts to halt and possibly cancel future production of the show, protestors shouted at diners that were outside of the mainstage of the show. Ticket-holders were approached and demanded to cancel the show, at this point police were begininng to arrive and difuse the situation. In the end the show did go on against the attempts of dozens of activists.
Both the directer of the show as well as the main-performers have expressed an attempt to defend the performance, explaining that they believe artistic potential is the heart of SLĀV just as much as the legacy of slavery. They want protestors to see the performance first before making a decision on how they feel.
The show is comprised of controversial topics that test and cross the boundaries on what activists believe should not be exploited, let alone performed by those who are not POC. Only time will tell if the show is in jeopardy of being canceled and if protestors and activists attend the next show date.
Protestors are urging others to join the protest for the next show.