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Wajdi Mouawad criticized for calling on Bertrand Cantat for his new play

Wajdi Mouawad criticized for calling on Bertrand Cantat for his new play
Wajdi Mouawad criticized for calling on Bertrand Cantat for his new play

Bertrand Cantat was released on parole in 2007, after four years in prison. Since then, his returns to take center stage have sparked controversy. Some people denounce that we make a man convicted of intentional homicide shine on his spouse, while others believe that he has paid his debt to society by serving time in prison.

In 2020, the singer and musician lost his libel case against the French magazine Point, which indicated that he had been violent towards other women who shared his life.

The choice of Wajdi Mouawad is all the more criticized as La Colline is one of the six national theaters, notably with the Comédie-Française. It is therefore placed under the supervision of the French Ministry of Culture.

The Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot, was questioned on this subject Monday morning during an interview granted to the radio France Inter. I regret that Bertrand Cantat was invited, she declared while evoking freedom of creation and specifying that Wajdi Mouawad could not not be accused of the slightest complacency in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.

A precedent in Quebec in 2011

In 2011, the decision of Wajdi Mouawad to engage Bertrand Cantat in Women, a Sophocles trilogy that he was directing for the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (TNM), in Montreal, had been the subject of such heated controversy that the theater had reversed itself.

Lorraine Pintal, the director of the TNM, had left the choice to Wajdi Mouawad to present his show Women without Bertrand Cantat or not to present it at all.

At the time, Wajdi Mouawad had justified the presence of Bertrand Cantat in his play.

If you decide that the symbol is more important than justice, it shouldn’t go on stage, but if it doesn’t go on stage, […] it means that you sacrifice a little the idea that you have of justice, since you inflict a second sentence on him, he said in an interview on the show 24 hours in 60 minutes from Radio-Canada.

As soon as there is a law that is laid down, I join this law. […] If we don’t go along with the law, we fall into barbarism, he added.

The one who subsequently left Quebec for France had also specified that if it had to be done again, he would do it again. But I would take my precautions by telling the story in advance and by making connections between the plays of Sophocles and Bertrand Cantat, more precautions with regard to the people who were truly shocked. I think of women in particular.

Denunciation of sexual violence in the theater in France

This new controversy surrounding Wajdi Mouawad and Bertrand Cantat comes as the wave of the MoiAussi movement has recently reached the theatrical community in France.

At the beginning of October, several women testified during an investigation of the daily Release and claims to have suffered harassment and sexual violence from Michel Didym, actor and former director of the Center dramatique national de Nancy.

Subsequently, a call for testimonies on Twitter from a theater blogger, who had accused a Comédie-Française actor of rape, snowballed.

The MeTooThéâtre collective was created, and a platform calling for a national survey in the community and a code of ethics in performing arts schools was signed by nearly 1,500 people, including actress Adèle Haenel, who has become a symbol. the fight against harassment and sexual assault in France, actresses from the Comédie-Française such as Marina Hands, as well as women politicians and feminist activists.

We have learned from our teachers to conform to the desire of the director […] that absolutely had to be encouraged to determine our future hiring. We learned everything except to say no, underlines the forum.

On Saturday, around 300 people demonstrated in Paris to denounce l’omerta.

MeTooThéâtre against the participation of Bertrand Cantat in Mother

On Monday, this collective also criticized the National Theater of La Colline for having collaborated with Bertrand Cantat in a press release posted on Twitter.

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However, the member of the Marie Coquille-Chambel collective, which has a YouTube channel dedicated to the theater, made a difference.

We also regret the focus on Bertrand Cantat, gender-based and sexual violence in the theater being systemic. This reduces the debate around a case and makes other attacks invisible, which we deplore.

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Radio-Canada asked for an interview with Wajdi Mouawad. His public relations officer replied that the director of La Colline will not speak on this subject in the media.

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