Skip to content skip to sidebar Skip to footer
Le dessinateur satirique et journaliste décédé Charb de Charlie Hebdo.
Satirical cartoonist and late journalist Charb of Charlie Hebdo. – Photo credits: AFP

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE – The play resulting from the book Letter to the Islamophobia Scammers Playing Racists' Game by cartoonist and journalist Charb, saw his performance canceled on August 9. Isabelle Barbéris denounces a hidden systematic ban.

Aggregated in Modern Literature, former student of the École Normale Supérieure Fontenay Saint-Cloud, Isabelle Barbéris is a lecturer in performing arts at the University of Paris Diderot and associate researcher at the CNRS.

On August 9, the deputy mayor of Lormont (Gironde) informed Gérald Dumont, director of the Théâtre K company, director and performer of Letter to the Islamophobia Scammers Playing Racists' Game that his show, previously invited by the Laïcité 33 association, was subject to last-minute deprogramming by the Town Hall (PS). Reason invoked: “The current general context leads us to favor constructive and long-term educational methods, to defend with conviction our dear secularism. The in-depth analysis of the representation that you propose, following our brief meeting in June, does not go in our opinion in this direction of a peaceful transmission. In a later response, the Town Hall will see fit to specify that “despite the interest that the show drawn from the writings of Charb can bring, it does not represent the only entry to defend the values ​​of secularism. (…) If the fight for secularism is common to us, the tools and means to carry it out can diverge and belong to everyone (in respect of the choices made).

Living together and politically correct softness, laziness which we know precisely threaten the freedom of expression so dear to Charb.

What to understand behind the argumentative twists and turns of this double response, to say the least… convoluted? It's quite simple: the municipality expresses that it dissociates itself from the secularism defended by Charb (and the show), by proposing what would be, according to it, an "alternative" vision: "appeased secularism". From a distance, such praise of appeasement looks like just another plea, heard a thousand times, for reasonable accommodation, "resilience", living together and political correctness - softness, laziness which we know precisely that 'they threaten the freedom of expression so dear to Charb.

On closer examination, the expression “appeased secularism” refers directly to an eponymous work by Jean Baubérot, published in 2016. Semantic chance? Baubérot's work belongs to the ideological corpus regularly claimed by associations (CCIF, ALCIR, etc.) which disguise their communitarianism behind the fight against "Islamophobia" - this cause of the new "untouchables" who have "outdated racism", to quote Charb … Height of brutality, the cancellation of the representation is thus done explicitly in the name of the impostors that the text is in charge of unmasking.

This reversal actually comes at the end of an already quite long list: created at the end of January 2016 in the form of a reading, the staging first experienced a period of improvement and found its audience spontaneously. – in addition to numerous invitations, she was also awarded the prize for civic education in Moselle. A short-lived success story, however. A first cancellation, which did not yet alert the artistic team, occurred in December 2016. The show which was to be played in the Lomme media library (59) was then "pushed back" for security reasons and lack of staff. The postponement will turn into radio silence, and will remain without follow-up. Then, in May 2017, it was the turn of the Maison des associations d'Arras to deprogram a stage of the show (before its appearance at the Colères du Present festival). But this time, the community associations got involved: the cancellation took place under the combined pressure of the MRAP and the LDH. Then, still in the spring of 2017, the University of Lille II goes back on its commitments, again arguing that there are unmanageable security problems for the place of reception.

The director will in fact have to wait until March 2016 to see himself, and this through the press, credited with a scathing and impersonal refusal, arguing the project's lack of artistic interest.

The episode of the Théâtre de la Manufacture is presented in a context where unease has therefore already grown. This place, renamed from OFF, will also fail at Théâtre K, but in a more hidden mode. The management team indeed met the director in 2016 and expressed its interest to him, without any definitive commitment, by inviting him to submit a project. But no one will acknowledge receipt of the file duly sent by Gérald Dumont, and containing an "open proposal" for Charlie's 25th birthday. The director will in fact have to wait until March 2016 to see himself, and this through the press, credited with a scathing and impersonal refusal, arguing the project's lack of artistic interest. At the same time, the Entrepôt, another OFF location, kicked in and disengaged from the project already underway. It was a question of distributing the short form in the districts of Avignon… but there again, the place backs down, claiming not to have had time to “prepare the population”. The show will find refuge in extremis at the Théâtre de l'Oulle, offering the public an animated and original form every evening. Each performance is indeed followed by a debate between the artistic team, secular activists, journalists from Charlie and the public, numerous and at the rendezvous – despite the late hour of programming (23:30 p.m.).

For nearly a year now, the company has had to endure a series of cancellations whose humiliating (and amateurish) nature can only be obvious. Sometimes serving as screens for more organized pressure, two arguments are systematically objected to, that of “security” – which amounts to leaving the last word to the enemies of Charlie and freedom of expression; that of the "artistic file", agitated without taking the slightest account of the claimed, thought out, elaborate character of the formal sobriety of the project.

How to understand these roadblocks which, today, hinder if not compromise the transmission of the secular and humanist word of Charb, who died laughing too soon - and that if we leave aside the pressures, already mentioned, coming from community lobbies? Two other factors seem important to me to understand this “stations of the cross” – contrary to Charb! The economic factor, and the ideological factor.

The artistic argument has a good back and veils other realities: The economic factor, and the ideological factor.

In the case of the Manufacture, for example, the artistic argument has a good back and veils other realities. The economy of the place is in fact based on the rental model, without the provision of resources. It is therefore an "advantage to the big companies" (very subsidized) which not only have the financial resources to rent the theater, but also to move, with equipment, artistic and technical team, and to house them in the most expensive of Avignon life. It is therefore understandable that the well-known but small company of Théâtre K is no match for a large national drama center like that of Rouen, directly dependent on the decentralized budget of culture, and producer of the play by Kacimi on Mohamed Merah ( I love death, as you love life).

But the economic reading grid is not enough. At the Manufacture, for example, the Charb was also discarded in favor of a reading of History of Violence directed by the director Laurent Hatat in the presence of the author Edouard Louis. However, this story, quite similar to the play by Mohamed Kacimi, proceeds to the rehabilitation of the criminal (here the rapist) presented as a damned of the earth and a victim of society. Welcomed at the same time as Moi, la mort, je l'aime, comme vous amour la vie, this reading leads us to believe that there is indeed a rather non-pluralistic "artistic choice" on the part of the Manufacture, which welcomes here two projects, two different formats – but with quite similar ideological presuppositions.

The reading conceived and interpreted by Dumont is emblematic of a trestle, popular theater which, by lowering the technical constraints, wishes to meet a large, young audience, without aesthetic elitism, but without populism either. Gérald Dumont has a trade; it delivers a clear, skilful reading-performance of Charb's text which has previously been cut, and re-edited with projections of drawings. The whole is, like the designer, very educational, but also light, lively. The show was designed to adapt to theaters as well as schools, media libraries, university amphitheatres, in order to make this disappearing word widely audible. A word that is all the more dangerous in that it does not need, unlike others, ideological support, aesthetic transfiguration, semantic twist, rehabilitation or victim pleading, to be audible. It goes straight to the brain through the heart.

The misadventures of this show are therefore a symptom, not only of the ideological tropisms of the world of performing arts, but also of its economy.

The misadventures of this show are therefore a symptom, not only of the ideological tropisms of the world of live performance, but also of its economy and the way in which this contributes to the disappearance of small forms, by discarding them with a somewhat contemptuous paternalism. .

Otherwise, to understand once and for all that staging racism to denounce racism is not only the opposite of being racist, but the best appeasement there is, the best thing is to try to assist to a performance. By praying to God, Allah, Yahweh for it to be maintained...

Source: © Le Figaro Premium – Cancellations of Charb's play: the shadow of ideological censorship


  • JEAN
    Posted September 4, 2017 14h10 0Likes

    Great article. For fun: a detail for the principle of French culture which exists whatever some say: Paragraph 3, 2nd line: circumvolutory deserves to be replaced by circumlocutory. When we speak in a slightly twisted way, certainly our language describes convolutions but when it comes to words in this context, it is rather circumlocutions that we are talking about.

  • Ren
    Posted September 5, 2017 16h25 0Likes

    After Charb was physically killed, the Mayor of Ormont, followed by others no more courageous, assassinated him a second time, rejecting his work.
    We hadn't made as much fuss for the famous play which violently insulted Jesus

Leave a comment

CJFAI © 2023. All Rights Reserved.