“Cabaret Noir is both a giant celebration centred around the idea of négritude and a space, so to speak, for resisting being essentialized and pigeonholed by the limitations of this concept, this blackness, this gloominess.
Since it’s impossible to escape our bodies, why not pay tribute to this condition, this identity, this burden, this beauty? After taking a look at the playground in front of us, a combination of cotton field and circus ring, stranded between essay and cabaret, we’re diving in eyes shut, fists raised.
Equal parts High Mass, happening, and plea for recognition, Cabaret Noir is a nod to both the flippant attitude of Cabaret Neiges Noires and the carefree atmosphere that marked the bals nègres of Paris during the 1930s.
We play around with clichés, folklore, and prejudices. We summon up the words of Frantz Fanon, Nina Simone, Dany Laferrière, and Spike Lee. We let the discourse develop and contradict itself. We observe how a bodily shell has the power to both sharpen instincts and dictate destinies.
In an age where one can lay claim simultaneously to both George Floyd and Barack Obama, Cabaret Noir is a space both sacred and profane, a space for demanding the right to tell one’s own story, in one’s own words, the right to fashion one’s own identity and, in the final reckoning, the right to not let oneself be defined by any authority whatsoever.”
April 13, 2022 at the Agora de la danse (Montréal, Canada)
Presented by the Groupe de la Veillée and Agora de la danse
Mayday benefited from a creative residency at the Théâtre du Prospero and the Agora de la danse
Ideation, staging and choreography: Mélanie Demers with the precious collaboration of the interpreters | Interpreters: Vlad Alexis, Florence Blain Mbaye, Paul Chambers, Mélanie Demers, Stacey Désilier, Anglesh Major | Lights: Paul Chambers | Original music: Anglesh Major et Florence Blain Mbaye | Musical editing:Anglesh Major | Dramaturgy : Angélique Willkie | Rehearsal Direction: Anne-Marie Jourdenais | Costums: Sophie El Assaad | Technical direction: Samuel Thériault
Acknowledgements: Carmen Jolin, Francine Bernier, Mani Soleymanlou and all our generous co-producers and collaborators. Timothy Rodrigues. And thank you also to all the lineages of ancestors, artists, activists from which we have drawn.
Le Groupe de la Veillée (Montréal, Canada)
Agora de la danse (Montréal, Canada)
Théâtre français du CNA (Ottawa, Canada)
The project is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.