Tableau D’Hôte Theatre (TDHT) condemns in the strongest possible terms the measures imposed by the government of Québec on cultural institutions located in “red zones”. The restrictions as outlined by François Legault in the early evening of September 28th unfairly target the arts — which have taken exceptional measures to adapt their practices to the present reality — while sparing other higher-risk sectors.

“It is scandalous that as of Thursday you will be able shop at Chapters, but you may not visit a library. You can go to the mall, but not a museum,” denounces Mathieu Murphy-Perron, Artistic and Executive Director of Tableau D’Hôte Theatre. “Audiences in the theatres that have resumed operations are very distanced. The science tells us that these venues are amongst the safest places to be, as audience members do not speak, interact, or walk around during performances, which explains why countries around the world have been maintaining artistic activities as new waves of COVID-19 emerge in their regions.”

Ideological and unscientific
For Tableau D’Hôte Theatre, the decisions made by the government of François Legault are ideological and will have a devastating impact on one of the sectors already hardest hit by the pandemic.

“The monstrous spike in cases since late August is indeed great cause for concern, and we must collectively adapt our habits to reduce as much as possible the risk of transmission. Instead of tightening and changing their clearly inadequate back-to-school measures, the government has instead arbitrarily chosen to target a sector that has not been a source of risk for transmission,” explains Tableau D’Hôte’s Artistic and Executive Director. “The narrative out of the Premier’s office is clear: it is we the members of the public that have failed to control the spread of the virus. We reject this premise. Decades of chronic underfunding and neoliberalism in our hospitals, senior homes, and schools have severely impacted our collective ability to respond to such a crisis.”

In solidarity
While TDHT has recently closed En Pointe, their episodic series of outdoor bilingual short plays, they remain in solidarity with the artists and institutions that had adapted their practices and were preparing to safely present cultural offerings to the public.

“This is purely a question of optics. The government did not see how they could instruct people to not hold private gatherings, all the while letting cultural institutions resume their adapted operations. It concluded that the mental health benefits that the arts bring to society are simply unessential. This short-sighted decision will prove insurmountable for many in our sector, and we call on the government to go back to the drawing board. Failing to address the root issues of outbreaks will push these measures well past twenty-eight days, and will bring many institutions and artists past the point of no return,” concludes Murphy-Perron.

Photo : Moment from the ninth play of the En Pointe series. Delphine Bienvenu, Frédéric Paquet, Cat Lemieux. Costumes by Sophie El-Assaad and Zoe Roux. Credit, Jaclyn Turner