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Theatre and immigration: from the multiculturalism act to the sites of imagined communities/Theatre et immigration: de la Loi sur le multiculturalisme jusqu'aux lieux de l'imaginaire national.

In English Canada the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act instigated the study of ethnic, multicultural, and intercultural theatre practices. (2) In Quebec the 1977 Bill 101 or The Charter of the French Language, which established the fundamental language rights of the people of Quebec and so presented "the most prominent cite of struggle over Quebecois culture and nationhood," framed similar scholarly and artistic questions (Knowles and Mundel XVI). Today, however, with the growing number of immigrants landing in English Canada and Quebec, urban theatre audiences have become "increasingly diverse" and immigrant artists' performances "no longer need to appeal either to the traditional white middle-class audience of Canada's so-called 'main stages' [...] nor to communities narrowly defined by culture or interest" (XVII). This special issue takes this statement further and focuses on the cultural, personal, and artistic output of immigrant theatre artists who have been working in Canadian theatre for several decades. It argues that representation of an immigrant/immigration on stage constitutes a self-referential move in Canadian theatre. The increased presence of immigrant theatre artists actively contributing to English Canadian and Quebec theatre today invites audiences to rethink such fundamental concepts as nationalism and multiculturalism. Moreover, as this issue demonstrates, immigrant artists' theatrical aesthetics and concerns situate questions of immigration within the wider discourse and practices of theatre as it relates to globalization and mobile identities worldwide. Hence, the articles chosen for this issue aim to measure the artistic output of Canadian immigrant theatre using the theoretical lenses of postcolonial and intercultural performance theories, studies in linguistics and cultural semiotics, psychoanalysis, and cultural geography. They continue the discussion of intercultural theatre practices in Canada and Quebec, initiated by Theatre Research in Canada and Jeu; (3) and reflect the ongoing debates on theatre and immigration in Canada that took place at the 2013 and 2014 annual meetings of Canadian Association for Theatre Research; and as proposed in my own work on theatre and exile (2012).

Terminology wise, this issue moves away from the metaphorical and somewhat poeticized term "exilic artist," someone found in and/or seeking position of existential estrangement or being an outsider, augmented by the social, political, economic, and physical conditions of the flight (Meerzon 4-8). (4) It employs a more pragmatic concept: we use the term "immigrant artist," adapted after the Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) definition of political refugees, skilled workers, investors, entrepreneurs, and self-employed people as immigrants, eligible to seek employment in Canada. Such an "immigrant" must have Canadian or foreign educational credentials, demonstrate a sufficient knowledge of English or French, and have at least one year of continuous full-time paid work experience in one's primary occupation ("Skilled Immigrants"). The term "immigrant theatre artist" refers to a newcomer to Canada who holds a post-secondary diploma in theatre, has work experience in the trade, and aims to earn a living in Canada or Quebec by working in theatre in English and/or in French.

When the Canadian Liberal government revised its immigration policies and made obtaining refugee status more accessible in the mid-1990s, Canada became one of the most desirable countries for migration. This move created what Bricker and Ibbitson call "The Big Shift" (2), the most significant change in Canada's population in the late twentieth century:
   Our population is up 5.9 percent from what it was five years ago
   {roughly 2010}. About a third of this increase is due to natural
   population growth (more people being born than dying). The other
   two-thirds--67 percent, to be precise--is due to immigration {...}
   Because Canada is one of the world's most urban countries {...}
   most immigrants migrate to cities {...} Toronto is 46 percent
   foreign born; Vancouver 30 percent; Winnipeg a respectable 18
   percent; but Halifax only 7 percent. (21-22)

Given these statistics and the Harper government's latest attempts to assume a more active role in shaping Canada's workforce demographics through its new immigration policies (5)--including attracting skilled tradespeople and professionals, preferably educated in Canada on study permits ("Harper Government"), which is seen by some as social engineering (Dobbin)--it is time to seriously examine the role immigrants play in reshaping the country's self-image.

An immigrant artist might not possess what the Harper government would consider a highly sought skill that renders her immediately useful to the country's economy. Nevertheless, such an artist is a richly symbiotic, cosmopolitan subject capable of challenging the administrative and financial governing structures of the country from within. She is someone who might ask questions of collective ethics and morals, and hold the mirror of commitments and promises up to the nation and its government, revealing its ideological approach to immigration "rather than any evidence-based solutions" (Niren, qtd. in Radia). Moreover, the government's approach to immigration might also expose Canada to many mistakes recently made by other Western nations. "{C}ontrary to the trend of globalization," writes journalist Andy Radia, such countries as the UK, France, Denmark, Italy, and Germany have taken "a more isolationist stance when it comes to immigration and citizenship." For Radia, "{t}his is the opposite approach of what Canada needs," given the country's deep traditions of nation building based on the physical, emotional, and social input of immigrants. Hence, thinking of these new and rather dangerous tendencies in the Harper government's immigration policies, this special issue asks: if Canada needs to reimagine itself as a nation continuously reshaped by new immigrants, how do these immigrants and specifically immigrant theatre artists participate in this process? To what extent are/will their voices be heard by diverse audiences and by the individuals and the institutions in power? And what particular artistic and ideological program do immigrant theatre artists propose in the country's collective re-thinking of its politics of multiculturalism and nationalism?

The articles chosen for this issue demonstrate that the artistic output of immigrant artists often helps Canada's culturally, linguistically, and ethnically diverse audiences negotiate their similarities and differences. The contributions describe the complex processes of negotiation that characterize the mechanisms of communication between immigrant subjects and their hosts, both in their everyday and artistic activities. Each article addresses fundamental issues related to immigration and creating immigrant art. These include rethinking/re-constructing self in the instances of a) language loss/acquisition/work with an accent (Diana Manole); b) relationships with history (Eury Chang); c) issues of hospitality (Sheila Rabillard); d) time and memory (Manuel Garcia Martinez); e) personal mapping and space (Andrew Houston); and f) divided consciousness (Yana Meerzon). Cynthia Ashperger and Lina de Guevara speak about immigration from their personal experience. With their contributions in the Forum section, these immigrant-actresses draw our attention to the experience of female immigrant subjects, exposed to the judgemental gazes not only in their everyday struggles but also on stage as professional performers.

This issue's second objective is to demonstrate that the artistic and ideological output of immigrant theatre can reveal the mechanisms of constructing Canadian nationalism. (6) Following Alan Filewod's argument that English Canadian theatre is produced in the motion of creating "imagined community" through art (1-11), the articles contend that immigrant theatre can be also seen stemming from such motion. Filewod applies Benedict Anderson's view of a nation as an "imagined community" to Anglophone Canada and argues that in this context, "the phrase 'Canadian theatre' has always meant an imagined theatre contained within (and often inhibited by) the material theatre of the day. It is a phrase that has expressed longing for a sense of national community and which has been the site of severe contestation" (10). Thus Filewod proposes the narrative of Canadian national theatre as a historical project seeking its own authenticity, when "theatre and nation collapse into each other at the point of imagined authenticity: 'the real' nation is out there, the 'real' theatre is its articulation" (10). Such a conceptual framework not only provides a productive structure to think about the diverse historical contexts of Canadian theatre, but also offers an important groundwork for contextualizing further research on the role of immigrant artists in making theatre and building new imagined communities in Canada today.

Erin Hurley, in her own turn, follows Baudrillard's views on postmodernism as the culture of simulation and mimicry, putting forward a definition of the emigre culture of Quebec (in similar terms to Filewod) as the culture of simulation, imitating in its artistic output the social, linguistic, and artistic structures of the host nation (90-93). She analyzes the dramatic corpus ofMarco Micone, a Quebecois playwright of Italian origin, as an example of this process, arguing that he "approaches the issue of ethnic difference from this immigrant space of exiguity and in the mode of simulation" (90). In this gesture, Hurley specifies, Micone's theatre (and any other immigrant project by extension) "writes back to the centre of the Quebec literary institution [...] in a process that not only de-centres the centre but uproots it" (90). In this tendency, it "evinces a feminist politic that undoes the masculinist national fantasy of self-originating" (90).

This issue takes both arguments further: the articles by Manole, Ashperger, and Guevara demonstrate that for many years, through their plays and productions, acting and directing, immigrant theatre artists (consciously or not; acknowledged by critics, financing and cultural agencies or not) have been actively creating the so-called imagined communities of Canadian and Quebecois national theatres. Often, by commenting upon the traumatic events that shaped their personal immigrant experience, these artists create fictional "else-where" and "back-home" environments on stage. Presented to diverse Canadian audiences, these self-reflexive, accented, ironic, meta-theatrical, and estranged environments have become the temporary instances of shared imagined (immigrant) communities; they reflect immigrants' struggles in second language acquisition, and recognize, challenge, and negotiate the artistic, ideological, and performative tendencies that make Canadian/Quebecois theatre Canadian/Quebecois. (7) For many immigrant artists, making a theatrical performance itself becomes a process of creating these imagined communities, a new homeland, which "transcends cultural specificity and encourages the development of an identity that is formed from living in the theatre rather than a society" (Turner 23).

The first step in developing a theatrical imagined community is to create new dramaturgies that stage the nation's image of itself (Filewod 7-8). The same applies to making immigrant theatre: it begins with the establishment of a dramatic canon. For instance, the plays of Marco Micone can offer a good example of the aesthetics and thematic repertoire of the immigrant theatre. These plays focus on such issues as language loss and acquisition, intergenerational conflict, nostalgia, displacement, economic struggle, and the immigrant's desire to recreate an image of a homeland in the new land; the topics often found in the literature and dramaturgy of immigration. Most importantly, as Martinez shows in his contribution to this issue, Micone's plays tackle the problem of time: an existential category of human experience, turned in immigration into the cultural characteristic and artistic device to measure psychological and cultural estrangement the immigrants live through in a new land.

The second step in constructing a national theatre is to produce works that reflect historical changes in building the nation. In the case of immigration, this involves developing theatre projects that reflect historical changes in the practices of migration and in its artistic rendering, as shown by Eury Chang and Sheila Rabillard. This is especially relevant to the work of second-generation immigrants interested in exploring how the identity of an immigrant subject can be constructed theatrically. For artists who came to Canada as children or were born to immigrant families, including Marty Chan, David Yee, Betty Quan, Johnny Trinh, David Lam, Nancy Tam, and Mani Soleymanlou (to name a few), questions of belonging, personal and linguistic identity, issues of class and representation, and father/son conflicts become secondary. Rather, these artists focus on questions of a divided self, investigate the devices of representation, and explore the meta-theatrical and meta-historical qualities of theatrical performance. At the same time, as Houston and I argue in this issue, in their therapeutic function these works lead to the self-reflexivity of the form, in which the processes of narration and performance are made visible.

This artistic shift reflects how the conditions of immigration and its practices in Canada have radically changed from the 1970s. It also suggests that the culture of immigration relies on investigating and staging one's subjectivity, the characteristic that approximates immigrant theatre to transnational and cosmopolitan theatre aesthetics. This issue illustrates this point as well: it discusses the work of immigrant artists who carry within themselves multi-layered, multivocal, and constantly shifting performative contexts. The articles present immigration as a lonely but unique process, conditioned by the circumstances of departure and arrival; one's professional skills and aspirations; and the artist's willingness to compromise and adapt to new professional requirements and limitations. They reveal that the problems of "looks and sound," contending with an accent in one's speech or writing, or coping with the absence of funding or professional networking are common to the immigrant experience. In these aspects, the work and the destiny of an immigrant artist resembles that of the exilic one. Immigrant theatre, based on the principles of amalgamation and continuity, adapts to the new social, economic, and cultural structures of its projected audiences. Immigrants tend to assume a new artistic identity, while remaining true to the artistic aspirations they brought from home. Their theatre is not binary; it presents cultural and cognitive synaesthesia and originates as a fusion of the artists' inherited cultural traditions and those of a new world, so it repeatedly stages the tension between continuity and difference.

In this context, the production Polyglotte, which premiered at the 2015 Festival TransAmeriques (Montreal), must be cited. Created by Olivier Choiniere, one of Quebec's leading non-immigrant theatre artists, and his co-creator Alexia Burger, Polyglotte features a group of recent immigrants, non-actors, invited by the artists to share their radically different (to non-immigrants) view of Canada. Collectively, the participants were invited to provide a "contemporary look at the country as it is"; "to overturn the way we imagine ourselves, particularly in theatre, as a society still all-white, often unilingual and terribly homogenous" (Choiniere). A coproduction of Festival TransAmeriques and Choiniere's company LActivite, Polyglotte was intended to shake the festival-going public out of its comfort zones and make it confront its own "fantastic vision of Canada and Quebec" (Larochelle). Based on the 19601970s educational LPs, Polyglot Method of French Conversation/Methode polyglotte de conversation anglaise, intended for the new immigrants learning their second language, Polyglotte staged the irresolvable tension between the drama of arrival and the tragicomedy of the encounter between a new immigrant and the host country. Inspired by the forty lessons "repeated in both languages with different intonations" and creating "a touch of Big Brother in the disembodied language of those disks" (Choiniere, Interview), Polyglotte provided the immigrant non-actors with the venue to express their astonishment and frustration with the new country. "[A]rmed with those phrases, [they] play the role of locals who guide the spectators toward Canadian citizenship" (Interview); so the post-Charte des valeurs audience of Quebec would realize that "to see ourselves collectively in 2015 through the gaze of the immigrant, of that Other who is part of us, is necessary. It is through him or her [a new immigrant] that I [Olivier Choiniere; non-immigrant, white, male, Quebecois citizen] can get beyond my own cliches" (Interview). In its political and artistic statements, therefore, Polyglotte continued the work of theatre-artist immigrants, such as Mani Soleymanlou in Quebec or Carmen Aguirre in English Canada, who have made serious attempts to bring the immigrant topics out of the "minority theatre" box, the box created by the cultural and economic policies of multiculturalism, and to personally integrate in what we would call "a mainstream Canadian theatre."

The goal of this special issue is similar: collectively the articles aspire to reflect the rapidly changing social, cultural, and economic tendencies in Canadian society created by the culture of The Big Shift. They point at the increasing influx of artists-immigrants working on Canadian and Quebecois stages. They demonstrate that the more visible and incessant the presence of these artists, the more powerfully their artistic and political project is articulated, the more often non-immigrant Canadian theatre artists will be compelled to consider the hardships of migration and to artistically investigate this experience themselves. Building imagined communities, however, takes time and effort. Today this project is still a utopia. This issue proposes to begin the conversation: it suggests that in the epoch of big shifts the practice of multilingualism, mapping and hospitality, reconciliation, and building imagined communities through the arts might become a life recipe for Canada and Quebec.



(1) I would like to offer special "thank you" to all readers, editors and advisors who worked on this volume. I would also like to thank my "personal consultants": Joel Beddows (University of Ottawa) and Marlis Schweitzer (York University), as well as Isabelle Leger for working on translation of this article.

(2) See the special issue of Canadian Theatre Review 55 (1988) edited by Natalie Rewa and entitled "Theatre and Ethnicity."

(3) The special issues include the 2009 "Performing Intercultural Canada," Theatre Research in Canada 30.1-2, edited by Ric Knowles; and the 2013 "Canadian Performances/Global Redefinitions," Theatre Research in Canada 34.1, co-edited by Gilbert Reid and Marc Maufort; the 2001 "Portraits d'auteurs," Jeu 98.1, edited by Patricia Belzil; and the 2006 "Paroles d'auteurs," Jeu 120.3, edited by Raymond Bertin.

(4) During recent years, Harper's government "cancelled the immigrant investor program; [...] tightened rules surrounding immigration for parents and grandparents; [...] rejigged the Citizenship Act, and [...] tackled marriage and refugee fraud" (Radia).

(5) In my book Performing Exile--Performing Self, I identify exilic artist in the following terms: "These artists' exilic flight and longing for return are exemplified in the processes of coming to terms with one's artistic identity. This identity originates within the exilic artist's gradual move from seeing oneself as an ethno-cultural and thus national subject in the past, at home; to recognizing oneself as a representative of a certain profession--a poet, a theater director, a writer, a dancer, or a filmmaker--someone whose life abroad, in the artist's present, must be defined by what this person does, and not by what place, language, or cultural heritage this artist belongs to" (8-9).

(6) Historically, the first step Canada had to take in the project of "Canadian nationalism" was distinguishing itself from the US (Wright ix-xiii), by reflecting a set of cultural and intellectual principles, the foundation of its "national consciousness", as they have been suggested by such prominent Canadian artists and intellectuals as Margaret Atwood, Harold Innes, and Alex Colville (x). However, as Bashevkin writes, the project of Canadian nationalism started facing serious political and ideological divides since the early 1990s, as it was challenged by the rise of feminist, environmental, aboriginal and youth movements; and by the rapidly increasing number of immigrants coming to Canada (184-85).

(7) The question of how the figure of Other/an immigrant is shaped in Canadian non-immigrant theatre by the writers, producers, directors, and fellow actors, who find themselves increasingly dealing with people of multiple origins, should be left for future exploration. This question is important but is beyond the scope of this issue.

Works Cited

Bashevkin, Sylvia B. True Patriot Love: The Politics of Canadian Nationalism. Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 1991. Print.

Bricker, Darrell and Ibbitson, John. The Big Shift: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business, and Culture and What It Means For Our Future. Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers, 2013. Print.

Choiniere, Olivier. "Interview with Olivier Choiniere." FTA 2015. Web. 10 June 2015.

Dobbin, Murray. "Harper's Plan to Dismantle Canada's Safety Nets." 7 Nov. 2011. Web. 15 May 2015.

--. "Harper plays at neoliberal social engineering." 7 Nov. 2012. Web. May 15 2015.

Filewod, Alan. Performing Canada: The Nation Enacted in the Imagined Theatre. Textual Studies in Canada Monograph Series: Critical Performance/s in Canada. Kamloops, BC: Textual Studies in Canada, 2002. Print.

"Harper Government Shows Foresight in Immigration Reform" (Editorial). The Chronicle Herald {Halifax} 2 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 May 2015.

Hurley, Erin. National Performance: Representing Quebec from Expo 67 to Celine Dion. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011. Print.

Knowles, Ric, and Ingrid Mundel. Introduction. "Ethnic", Multicultural, and Intercultural Theatre." Ed. Ric Knowles and Ingrid Mundel. Toronto: Playwrights Canada P, 2009. VII-XVII. Print.

Larochelle, Samuel. "FTA 2015--Olivier Choiniere vous convie a un examen de citoyennete canadienne dans 'Polyglotte'." Le Huffington Post Quebec 27 May 2015. Web. 10 June 2015.

Meerzon, Yana. Performing Exile--Performing Self: Drama, Theatre, Film. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. 2012. Print.

Radia, Andy. "Harper Government Considers Tightening 'Citizenship by Birth' Rules." YahooNews. Canadian Politics 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 May 2015.

"Skilled Immigrants (Express Entry)." Government of Canada 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 12 May 2015.

Turner, Jane. Eugenio Barba. London: Routledge. 2004. Print.

Wright, Robert W. Economics, Enlightenment, and Canadian Nationalism. Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP, 1993. Print.

Au Canada anglais, la Loi canadienne sur le multiculturalisme de 1988 a ouvert la voie a l'etude des pratiques theatrales dites ethniques, multiculturelles et interculturelles. (2) Au Quebec, la Loi 101 de 1977, ou Charte de la langue francaise, qui statua des droits linguistiques fondamentaux de la population du Quebec et devint <<le fer de lance de la lutte pour la reconnaissance de la culture et de nation quebecoises>>, circonscrit de semblables questions theoriques et artistiques (Knowles et Mundel XVI). Aujourd'hui, toutefois, avec le flux croissant d'immigrants tant au Canada anglais qu'au Quebec, le public urbain tend aussi a se diversifier de facon croissante et les productions theatrales des artistes immigres <<n'ont plus a viser le public blanc de classe moyenne frequentant traditionnellement les grandes salles [...] ou les communautes strictement definies par leur culture ou leurs champs d'interets>> (XVII). Le present numero thematique entend analyser, voire remettre en question, cette declaration sous l'angle de la production culturelle, personnelle et artistique des praticiens du theatre issus de l'immigration, mais faisant partie des communautes theatrales canadienne et quebecoise depuis plusieurs decennies.

Dans son ensemble, le numero defend la these que la representation de l'immigrant et de l'immigration sur scene institue un changement autoreferentiel dans le theatre canadien. La presence croissante d'artistes immigres contribuant activement a la vie theatrale au Canada et au Quebec invite les publics a repenser des concepts fondamentaux comme le nationalisme et le multiculturalisme. En outre, comme ce dossier veut le demontrer, les preoccupations et l'esthetique theatrales des artistes immigres situent les questions d'immigration dans les pratiques et dans un discours theatral plus larges dans leur rapport a la mondialisation et a la mobilite des identites dans le monde. Ainsi, les articles retenus visent a mesurer la production theatrale provenant des immigrants au Canada sous l'angle des theories postcoloniales et interculturelles de la performance, des etudes en linguistique et en semiotique culturelle, de la psychanalyse et de la geographie culturelle. Ils poursuivent donc une reflexion amorcee dans Recherches theatrales au Canada et dans Jeu (3) et refletent les debats, encore d'actualite, sur le theatre et l'immigration qui ont eu lieu lors des colloques de l'Association canadienne pour la recherche theatrale de 2013 et 2014 ainsi que dans mon propre ouvrage sur le theatre et l'exil, paru en 2012.

D'un point de vue terminologique, nous avons voulu nous eloigner de la conception metaphorique et quelque peu poetisee de <<l'artiste de l'exil>>, celui qui est ou cherche a etre dans une position existentielle d'etranger ou de marginal, vision renforcee par les conditions sociales, politiques, economiques et physiques de la fuite (Meerzon 4-8). (4) Le concept est plutot pragmatique : nous utilisons le terme <<artiste immigrant>>, suivant la definition donnee par Citoyennete et Immigration Canada (CIC) pour les refugies politiques, travailleurs qualifies, investisseurs, entrepreneurs et immigrants travailleurs autonomes admissibles a l'emploi au Canada. Cet <<immigrant>> doit etre diplome, au Canada ou a l'etranger, demontrer une bonne connaissance de l'anglais ou du francais et avoir travaille au moins un an sans interruption et contre remuneration dans sa profession principale (<<Skilled Immigrants>>). Le terme <<artiste dramatique immigrant>> renvoie a un nouvel arrivant titulaire d'un diplome post-secondaire en theatre, ayant de l'experience dans la profession et cherchant a gagner sa vie au Canada ou au Quebec dans le domaine du theatre en anglais ou en francais.

Au milieu des annees 1990, lorsque le gouvernement liberal a assouplit les politiques d'immigration et les conditions d'obtention du statut de refugie, le Canada est devenu un pays de choix pour les chercheurs d'asile. Ces modifications ont entraine ce que Bricker et Ibbitson appellent The Big Shift (2), le virage le plus important de la fin du vingtieme siecle pour la population canadienne :
   La population a augmente de 5,9 pour cent depuis cinq ans {environ
   depuis 2010}. A peu pres le tiers de cette augmentation provient de
   la croissance demographique naturelle (plus de naissances que de
   deces). Les deux-tiers qui restent--67 pour cent plus
   precisement--proviennent de l'immigration. [...] Comme le Canada
   est l'un des pays les plus urbanises [...] les immigrants
   s'installent dans les villes. [...] Toronto est peuple a 46 pour
   cent de nonnatifs; Vancouver a 30 pour cent; Winnipeg affiche un
   respectable 18 pour cent, tandis que Halifax n'en compte que 7 pour
   cent. (traduction libre, 21-22)

A la lumiere de ces statistiques et des recentes tentatives du gouvernement Harper visant a exercer une plus grande influence sur la composition de la main d'oeuvre au Canada au moyen de nouvelles politiques d'immigration (5)--entre autres, en voulant attirer des travailleurs qualifies et des professionnels preferablement formes au Canada grace a des permis etudiants (<<Harper Government>>), ce que certains percoivent comme une tentative de modelage societal (Dobbin)--, il est temps d'examiner le role des immigrants dans la transformation de l'image que le Canada a de lui-meme.

Un artiste immigrant ne possede peut-etre pas ce que le gouvernement Harper qualifierait de competences recherchees et utiles a l'avancement de l'economie nationale. Neanmoins, cet artiste constitue un sujet hautement symbiotique et cosmopolite, capable de questionner de l'interieur les structures de gouvernance administratives et financieres du pays. C'est une personne susceptible de questionner la morale et l'ethique collectives, de rappeler a la population et au gouvernement leurs engagements et leurs promesses et de reveler l'ideologie sous-jacente en matiere d'immigration <<plutot que des solutions fondees sur des donnees>> (traduction libre, Niren, cite dans Radia). En outre, l'approche actuelle en immigration expose le Canada a certaines erreurs recemment commises dans d'autres pays occidentaux : <<[contrairement a la tendance vers la mondialisation>>, ecrit le journaliste Andy Radia, des pays comme le Royaume-Uni, la France, le Danemark, l'Italie et l'Allemagne <<ont adopte des positions plus isolationnistes sur l'immigration et la citoyennete>> (Radia). Pour Radia, <<[c]'est le contraire de ce dont le Canada a besoin comme approche>>, etant donne la longue tradition d'edification d'une nation fondee sur l'apport physique, emotionnel et social des immigrants. Ainsi, a la lumiere de ces nouvelles, et plutot dangereuses, orientations donnees par le gouvernement Harper aux politiques d'immigration, ce numero thematique aborde les questions suivantes : si le Canada doit repenser son image en tant que nation constamment remodelee par l'immigration, comment les immigrants, et en particulier les artistes du milieu theatral, participent-ils a ce processus ? Dans quelle mesure leur voix estelle ou sera-t-elle entendue par differents publics, par les institutions au pouvoir et leurs representants ? Et quel programme artistique et ideologique ces artistes proposent-ils dans la reevaluation des politiques nationales de multiculturalisme et de nationalisme ?

Les articles selectionnes pour ce numero demontrent que l'apport artistique des immigrants aide les publics canadiens, qui sont diversifies sur les plans culturel, linguistique et ethnique, a gerer leurs similitudes et de leur differences. Les articles decrivent les processus complexes de negociation qui caracterisent les mecanismes communicationnels entre immigrants et natifs, tant dans le quotidien que dans l'oeuvre artistique. Chacun traite de questions fondamentales en rapport avec l'immigration et la creation artistique. Parmi ces sujets, notons la re-conception/reconstruction du soi en fonction a) de la perte ou de l'acquisition de la langue et de l'accent au travail (Diana Manole); b) du rapport a l'histoire (Eury Chang); c) de problemes d'accueil (Sheila Rabillard); d) du rapport au temps et a la memoire (Manuel Garcia Martinez); e) de l'insertion personnelle dans l'espace (Andrew Houston); f) d'une conscience scindee (Yana Meerzon). Cynthia Ashperger et Lina de Guevara traitent d'immigration a partir de leur propre experience. Par leur contribution dans la section Forum, ces deux actrices immigrees jettent un regard sur l'experience vecue par les femmes immigrantes, exposees aux regards et aux jugements dont elles font l'objet non seulement dans leurs vies quotidiennes, mais aussi sur scene en tant qu'interpretes professionnelles.

Le second objectif de ce numero est de demontrer que l'apport ideologique et la production theatrale des communautes immigrantes peuvent reveler les mecanismes de construction du nationalisme canadien. (6) A la suite d'Alan Filewod, pour qui le theatre canadien procede et participe de la creation d'une <<communaute imaginee>> par l'art (1-11), les articles ci-inclus affirment que le theatre immigrant peut aussi etre percu comme tributaire d'un tel mouvement. Filewod applique au Canada anglais le concept de nation de Benedict Anderson en tant que <<communaute imaginee>> et affirme que, dans ce contexte, <<l'expression theatre canadien a toujours signifie un theatre imagine contraint (et souvent paralyse) par la materialite theatrale de l'epoque. C'est une expression qui porte le desir d'une certaine collectivite nationale et qui a donne lieu a des debats houleux>> (10). Ainsi, Filewod presente le recit du theatre national canadien comme un projet historique a la recherche de sa propre authenticite, quand <<theatre et nation fusionnent a un point d'authenticite imaginee : la vraie nation est la et le vrai theatre en est l'articulation>> (10). Un tel cadre conceptuel non seulement procure une structure productive pour reflechir sur les contextes historiques varies du theatre canadien, mais offre egalement une base solide pour contextualiser de nouvelles recherches sur le role des artistes immigrants dans la fabrication du theatre et la construction de nouvelles communautes imaginees dans le Canada actuel.

Erin Hurley, quant a elle, s'appuie sur l'idee de postmodernisme de Baudrillard en tant que culture de la simulation et de l'imitation pour proposer une definition de la culture de l'immigrant au Quebec (en termes similaires a Filewod) en tant que culture de la simulation, reproduisant dans sa production artistique les structures sociales, linguistiques et artistiques de la communaute d'accueil>> (90-93). Elle analyse le corpus dramaturgique de Marco Micone, auteur quebecois d'origine italienne, comme exemple de ce processus, soutenant qu'il aborde <<la question de la difference ethnique a partir de cet espace exigu et dans un mode de simulation>> (90). Par ce choix, precise Hurley, le theatre de Micone (et tout autre projet immigrant par extension) <<repond au centre de l'institution litteraire quebecoise [...] dans un mecanisme qui non seulement decentre le centre mais le deracine>> (90). Ce faisant, il <<reproduit une politique feministe qui s'oppose au fantasme national masculiniste de l'autocreation>> (90).

Notre numero tente d'etoffer les deux arguments: les articles de Manole, Ashperger et Guevara montrent que, depuis des annees, par leurs pieces et leurs productions, leur jeu et leurs mises en scene, les artistes immigrants (consciemment ou non, soutenus ou non par la critique, les organismes subventionnaires et culturels) creent concretement ces communautes imaginees du theatre canadien et quebecois. Souvent, par leurs discours sur des evenements traumatisants de leur propre histoire, ces artistes engendrent des <<ailleurs>> fictionnels et des environnements sceniques du <<retour au pays>>. Presentes a divers publics canadiens, ces environnements autoreflexifs, accentues, ironiques, meta-theatraux et etranges sont temporairement devenus la representation des communautes imaginees (immigrantes) communes; ils refletent les epreuves inherentes a l'acquisition de la langue seconde et reconnaissent, questionnent et negocient les elements artistiques, ideologiques et performatifs qui font que le theatre canadien ou quebecois est ce qu'il est. (7) Pour de nombreux artistes immigres, monter sur scene est en soi un processus de creation de ces communautes imaginees, une nouvelle patrie, qui <<transcende la specificite culturelle et promeut le developpement d'une identite forgee par la vie au theatre davantage que dans la societe>> (Turner 23).

La premiere etape dans le developpement d'une communaute imaginee au theatre est d'elaborer une nouvelle dramaturgie mettant en scene l'image que la nation se fait d'ellememe>> (Filewod 7-8). Le meme raisonnement peut s'appliquer au theatre immigrant : tout commence par l'etablissement d'un canon dramaturgique. Par exemple, les pieces de Marco Micone offrent un bon exemple de l'esthetique et du repertoire thematique du theatre immigrant. Ces pieces se penchent sur des questions comme la perte et l'acquisition de la langue, les conflits intergenerationnels, la nostalgie, le deplacement, les difficultes economiques et le desir de l'immigrant de reconstituer une image de la patrie dans le nouveau pays. Ces sujets sont souvent abordes dans la litterature et la dramaturgie de l'immigration. Plus important encore, comme Martinez le montre dans son article, les pieces de Micone s'attaquent au probleme du temps : une categorie existentielle de l'experience humaine devenue, dans le contexte de l'immigration, une caracteristique culturelle et un outil artistique pour mesurer l'alienation psychologique et culturelle vecue par les immigrants dans un nouveau pays.

La deuxieme etape dans la construction d'un theatre national est la production d'oeuvres refletant les changements survenus dans l'elaboration de la nation. Dans le cas de l'immigration, cela signifie mettre en oeuvre des projets theatraux refletant les changements dans les pratiques de migration et dans leur interpretation artistique, comme le demontrent Eury Chang et Sheila Rabillard. Cette etape s'applique plus particulierement au travail des immigrants de deuxieme generation, desireux d'explorer comment l'identite de l'immigrant peut se construire sur scene. Pour les artistes arrives au Canada lorsqu'ils etaient enfants ou qui sont nes apres l'immigration de leurs parents, comme c'est le cas pour Marty Chan, David Yee, Betty Quan, Johnny Trinh, David Lam, Nancy Tam et Mani Soleymanlou (pour ne nommer que ceux-la), les questions d'appartenance, d'identite personnelle et linguistique, les problemes de classes et de representations ainsi que les conflits pere/fils passent au second plan. Ces artistes s'interessent plutot a la dualite du moi, approfondissent les mecanismes de representation et explorent les proprietes metatheatrales et metahistoriques de la performance. Parallelement, ainsi que Houston et moi le soutenons dans nos articles respectifs, par leur fonction therapeutique, ces oeuvres menent a l'autoreflexivite de la forme qui rend explicites les procedes narratifs et representatifs.

Ce changement artistique temoigne de la transformation radicale des conditions de vie et de pratique des immigrants au Canada depuis les annees 1970. Il donne aussi a penser que la culture de l'immigration se fonde sur le questionnement et la representation de la subjectivite, caracteristique rapprochant le theatre immigrant d'une esthetique theatrale nationale et cosmopolite. Ce numero illustre ce point egalement : il discute des oeuvres d'artistes immigres portant en eux des environnements representationnels multiples et superposes, des voix plurielles, en constant changement. Les articles presentent l'immigration comme un processus solitaire et unique, conditionne par les circonstances de depart et d'arrivee, les competences et aspirations professionnelles et la capacite de l'artiste a faire des compromis et a s'adapter aux nouvelles exigences et contingences professionnelles. Ils devoilent les problemes lies aux jugements que les immigrants subissent regulierement en raison de leur apparence, de leur accent et de leur ecriture, ainsi que de l'absence de financement et de reseau professionnel. Sur ces aspects, le travail et le destin de l'artiste immigre ressemblent a ceux de l'exile. Le theatre de l'immigration, base sur des principes d'amalgames et de continuite, s'adapte aux structures sociales, culturelles et economiques de son nouveau public. Les immigrants ont tendance a adopter une nouvelle identite artistique tout en demeurant fideles aux aspirations artistiques de leur contexte d'origine. Leur theatre n'est pas binaire : il effectue une synesthesie culturelle et cognitive et provient d'une fusion entre les traditions culturelles heritees et celles d'un monde nouveau, ce qui met continuellement en scene les tensions entre continuite et difference.

Dans ce contexte, la creation de Polyglotte lors du Festival TransAmeriques (FTA) de 2015 a Montreal doit etre mentionnee. OEuvre d'Olivier Choiniere, l'un des hommes de theatre non immigrants les plus en vue au Quebec, et de sa collaboratrice Alexia Burger, Polyglotte presente un groupe de non-acteurs recemment immigres offrant aux non-immigrants leur vision (parfois radicalement opposee) du Canada. Choiniere explique que les participants etaient invites, collectivement, a offrir <<un regard actuel sur le pays reel, sur le territoire [...]; a renverser la facon dont nous nous representons nous-memes, et ce, particulierement au theatre : comme une societe toujours et encore blanche, le plus souvent unilingue et diablement homogene>>. Coproduite par le FTA et la compagnie de Choiniere, L'Activite, Polyglotte visait a sortir l'auditoire de sa zone de confort et a le pousser a regarder en face sa propre <<vision fantasmee du Canada et du Quebec>> (Larochelle). Inspiree des disques educatifs des annees 1960-70 destines a l'apprentissage de l'anglais et du francais, langues secondes, pour les immigrants et intitules Poly-glot Method of French Conversation/ Methode polyglotte de conversation anglaise, Polyglotte mettait en scene l'irresoluble tension entre le drame de l'immigration et la tragicomedie de la rencontre entre un nouvel immigrant et le pays d'accueil. S'appuyant sur <<une quarantaine de lecons composees de phrases sur un nombre ahurissant de sujets, repetees dans les deux langues avec differentes intonations>> la piece recreait l'impression <<de Big Brother dans la langue desincarnee de ces disques>>. Polyglotte donnait a ces non-acteurs un lieu pour exprimer leur etonnement et leur frustration envers leur nouveau pays. <<Des immigrants, armes de ces phrases, jouent le role des residants qui guident les spectateurs vers la citoyennete canadienne>>, explique Choiniere. Un public ayant en memoire les audiences qui ont mene a la Charte des valeurs au Quebec devrait prendre conscience que <<pour nous voir collectivement en 2015, le regard de l'immigrant, le regard de cet autre qui fait partie de nous, est necessaire. C'est par lui [le nouvel arrivant] que je [Olivier Choiniere, non-immigrant, blanc, male, citoyen quebecois] peux m'extraire de mes propres cliches, comme de toutes ces images qui nous figent>>. Ainsi Polyglotte poursuit, par cette position artistique et politique, l'oeuvre d'artistes de l'immigration tels que Mani Soleymanlou au Quebec ou Carmen Aguirre au Canada anglais, qui ont tous deux tentes de sortir la question de l'immigration du carcan du <<theatre minoritaire>>, carcan cree par les politiques culturelles et economiques du multiculturalisme, et de s'integrer personnellement dans ce que l'on pourrait appeler <<le theatre canadien grand public>>.

Le but de ce numero thematique est semblable : dans leur ensemble, les articles aspirent a refleter les changements dans les tendances sociales, culturelles et economiques de la culture canadienne suscites par la culture du <<grand changement>>. Ils soulignent l'importance croissante de l'influence des artistes immigres sur les scenes canadiennes et quebecoises. Ils demontrent que plus la presence et la visibilite de ces artistes seront grandes, plus leurs projets artistiques et politiques seront puissamment articules, plus les artistes non immigrants seront pousses a prendre en consideration l'epreuve de l'immigration et a s'y interesser eux-memes artistiquement. La construction de communautes imaginees requiert toutefois du temps et des efforts. Pour l'instant, ce projet demeure une utopie. Ce numero souhaite amorcer le dialogue sur le sujet : il suggere qu'en periode de grands changements, les pratiques de multiculturalisme, de cartographie et d'accueil, de reconciliation et de construction de communautes imaginees a travers les arts pourraient constituer un nouveau mode de vivre-ensemble au Canada et au Quebec.


(1) J'aimerais remercier tout particulierement tous les lecteurs, reviseurs et conseillers qui ont collabore a cette edition speciale. Je remercie aussi mes <<aides personnelles>> : Joel Beddows (Universite d'Ottawa) et Marlis Schweitzer (York), ainsi qu'Isabelle Leger pour la traduction de cet article.

(2) Voir le numero thematique de Canadian Theatre Review (55 : 1988) dirige par Natalie Rewa intitule <<Theatre and Ethnicity>>.

(3) Nous renvoyons les lecteurs aux numeros thematiques suivants : <<Performing Intercultural Canada>> (2009, Theatre Research in Canada 30.1-2) dirige par Ric Knowles; <<Canadian Performances/Global Redefinitions>> (2013, Theatre Research in Canada 34.1) codirige par by Gilbert Reid et Marc Maufort; <<Portraits d'auteurs>> (2001, Jeu 98.1) dirige par Patricia Belzil; <<Paroles d'auteurs>> (2006, Jeu 120.3) dirige par Raymond Bertin.

(4) Dans mon livre Performing Exile--Performing Self, je definis l'artiste exile en ces termes : <<La fuite et le desir de retour des artistes exiles se manifestent dans le processus de consolidation de l'identite artistique. Cette identite prend forme dans l'evolution graduelle de la perception que l'artiste a de lui-meme comme sujet ethnoculturel et donc national dans le passe et dans son pays d'origine vers une reconnaissance de soi en tant que representant d'une profession - poete, directeur de theatre, ecrivain, danseur ou cineaste -, quelqu'un dont la vie ailleurs, dans le present, doit etre definie par le travail et non par le lieu, la langue ou la culture auxquels il appartient.>> (traduction libre, 8-9).

(5) Dans les dernieres annees, le gouvernement Harper <<a aboli le programme federal pour les investisseurs; [...] a resserre les regles entourant l'immigration de parents et de grands-parents; a revu la Loi sur la citoyennete; [...] et s'est attaque aux fraudes dans les mariages et les demandes de statut de refugie>> (Radia).

(6) Historiquement, le premier pas que le Canada devait faire pour affirmer un <<nationalisme canadien>> etait de se distinguer des Etats-Unis (Wright ix-xiii) en mettant de l'avant un ensemble de principes culturels et intellectuels, les fondements de sa <<conscience nationale>>, tels que suggeres par certains artistes et intellectuels canadiens de premier plan comme Margaret Atwood, Harold Innes et Alex Colville (x). Toutefois, comme l'ecrit Bashevkin, le projet de nationalisme canadien a commence a connaitre de serieuses difficultes politiques et ideologiques au debut des annees 1990, conteste par les mouvements feministes, environnementaux, autochtones et etudiants, ainsi que par la croissance rapide du nombre d'immigrants (184-85).

(7) Il est plus sage de reporter a plus tard la question portant sur la representation de l'Autre (l'immigrant) dans le theatre canadien non immigrant par les auteurs, producteurs, metteurs en scene et acteurs ayant a cotoyer des collegues de multiples origines. C'est une question importante, mais elle depasse le cadre du present numero.

Ouvrages cites

Bashevkin, Sylvia B. True Patriot Love: The Politics of Canadian Nationalism. Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 1991. Imprime.

Bricker, Darrell and Ibbitson, John. The Big Shift: The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business, and Culture and What It Means For Our Future. Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers, 2013. Imprime.

Choiniere, Olivier. <<Interview with Olivier Choiniere.>> FTA 2015. Web. 10 juin 2015.

Dobbin, Murray. <<Harper's Plan to Dismantle Canada's Safety Nets.>> 7 nov. 2011. Web. 15 mai 2015.

--<<Harper plays at neoliberal social engineering.>> 7 nov. 2011. Web. 15 mai 2015. Filewod, Alan. Performing Canada: The Nation Enacted in the Imagined Theatre. Textual Studies in Canada Monograph Series: Critical Performance/s in Canada. Kamloops, BC: Textual Studies in Canada, 2002. Imprime.

<<Harper Government Shows Foresight in Immigration Reform>> (Editorial). The Chronicle Herald 2 jan. 2013. Web. 12 mai 2015.

Hurley, Erin. National Performance: Representing Quebec from Expo 67 to Celine Dion. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011. Imprime.

Knowles, Ric et Ingrid Mundel. Introduction. "Ethnic", Multicultural, and Intercultural Theatre. Dir. Ric Knowles et Ingrid Mundel. Toronto: Playwrights Canada P, 2009. VII- XVII. Imprime.

Larochelle, Samuel. <<FTA 2015--Olivier Choiniere vous convie a un examen de citoyennete canadienne dans 'Polyglotte'.>> Le Huffington Post Quebec 27 mai 2015. Web. 10 juin 2015.

Meerzon, Yana. Performing Exile--Performing Self: Drama, Theatre, Film. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. 2012. Imprime.

Radia, Andy. <<Harper Government Considers Tightening 'Citizenship by Birth' Rules.>> YahooNews. Canadian Politics 18 aout 2014. Web. 12 mai 2015.

<<Skilled Immigrants (Express Entry).>> Government of Canada. 2 fev. 2015. Web. 12 mai 2015.

Turner, Jane. Eugenio Barba. London: Routledge. 2004. Imprime.

Wright, Robert W. Economics, Enlightenment, and Canadian Nationalism. Montreal : McGill-Queen's UP, 1993. Imprime.
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Title Annotation:INTRODUCTION
Author:Meerzon, Yana
Publication:Theatre Research in Canada
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 22, 2015
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