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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

After Dark, September 4, 2012

The Tribes
There are lessons we must learn from politics
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Today Quebeckers vote. It has been a rancorous and unpleasant campaign and I'm glad to be rid of it (though suspect by midnight we will have a minority government and be heading back to the fucking polls in no time).

I've heard all the hyperbole I can handle. It didn't come close to the scum thrown in the US, but it did approach it. Because of the confluence of the student uprising and the burgeoning strength of the sovereignist Parti Québécois we were treated to ugly epithets hurled on one side and another not just on Facebook and Twitter - bad enough - but in editorials too. One idiot editorial in anglo Montreal trotted out "fascist" to describe the PQ leader's aspirations. When you've heard that one thrown at the Liberals for nine months, it becomes meaningless.

US politics are uglier than ever. But that seems to be a refrain we repeat every election.

We are slowly heading towards a like tribalism in theatre.

Our politics are not partisan. They are tribal. In North America, Russia, France, Italy - this tribalism reveals one failed democracy after another. If we don't find ourselves with actual Fascist - or at least plutocratic/kleptocratic - states (Russia), we find ourselves with governments which are non-functioning; minorities promenading on eggshells in miasmas of stasis or, even, devolution. We can call the tribes Republican and Democrat, or Liberal and Conservative - but they are at the very least counterproductive and, in fact, dangerous.

You may already suspect where I am going with this?

We are slowly heading towards a like tribalism in theatre. There is an approaching storm in the land. Right now, in Toronto, in an orgy of penis-measuring, sides are being taken and this among creators - not boards v. artists. Who will or will not boycott who? The tribes have formed. In Montreal we joke about the MELT Mafia (Montreal English Language Theatre) - a small cadre of GOBs - similar to those fighting it out in TO - who keep each other employed. (What is darkly comic about both stories is that the two cultural communities have often gone to war with a common enemy - critics - but instead a pervasive animus now exists among the artists themselves.)

Simply, this must stop.

The cultural community - like the poor in the body politic - has enough striving to do without this kind of (not to put too fine a point on it) sectarianism. We have to get angry that it is happening in the first place and to order our tribal elders back to the negotiating table before very important things - like an historic theatre - drown.

Let's get back to the good ol' days - when we joined in our efforts against parsimonious governments (and reviewers).

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