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Organizers of puppet festival apologize for song about prison rape
Jason Magder, MONTREAL GAZETTE
First posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 05:45 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 05:53 PM EDT
Organizers of a puppet festival in Verdun apologized after a song about prison rape was performed in front of many small children on a public stage over the weekend.
The song, called Prison Bitch, was performed as part of the Marionnettes Plein la Rue festival in Verdun. It was captured on video by St-Henri resident Ronit Milo, 38, attending the performance with her 3-year-old son, husband and mother-in-law.
Milo shared the video on Facebook. It contains content that some viewers might find offensive.
"You're my prison bitch, my prison bitch.
I'll never say goodbye.
You're not like the others. Too bad they had to die."
Milo said the most of the show, called Aux Grands Airs, put on by the troupe Cabaret Decadanse, wasn't inappropriate, but the Prison Bitch song seemed to come out of nowhere.
"The whole performance was more for adults, but there wasn't any shocking material or anything else of a violent nature," she said, adding advisories should have been issued by the performers, or at least by the festival, to warn parents about content that could be deemed inappropriate.
The Facebook video racked up more than 15,000 views by Tuesday afternoon. It showed several children dancing around the stage while the song was being played. Milo said her son was too young to understand the song's message, but she said there were several children who were in the audience who could have been influenced by it.
"My son's only three; he found the tune catchy," Milo said. "I think older children would understand more, and maybe walk away singing the song. It's disturbing."
Promenade Wellington, the festival's organizer, said it made a mistake by allowing that song to be performed.
"We became aware of a part of a performance that was not comfortable for several people in the audience. We share this feeling, and it's amplified by the fact there was a large number of children present," festival organizers said in a statement on Facebook, which called the incident a programming error.
"This situation is the result of several errors that occurred, and as organizers, we have to assume the blame," the statement continued. "We sincerely apologize that this was uncomfortable for parents, and we're sorry we lacked vigilance about the content of the show. Yes, the artists could have judged this to be inappropriate because there were children in the audience, but we should have caught this before it became an issue."
The statement went on to say that there will be better surveillance of the shows in the future, and that the situation won't happen again.
Performers did not return interview requests on Tuesday, but Cabaret Décadanse puppeteer Serge Deslauriers told CBC that he had informed one of the festival's organizers the performance was an adult-oriented show and scheduling the group at an all-ages event was a mistake.
Sterling Downey, a city councillor for Verdun, said that type of language has no place at a public, family-friendly event, and both the organizers and the performers are to blame.
"When you think about rape culture in prison, and (the issues around) sexual assault, I can't even believe that anyone would think that would be OK," Downey said. "When you have performers and artists who don't know where to draw the line, that worries me. This isn't the Nasty Show at Just for Laughs, where people know what to expect. It was a public event at a family-friendly festival."
jmagder@postmedia.com (external - login to view)
Ronit Milo was shocked when she saw a skit alluding to rape in prison by Marionnettes Plein la Rue on Aug. 28, 2016. (RONIT MILO / FACEBOOK)

facebook.com/ronit.milo.5/vid...57385140145444 (external - login to view)
Organizers of puppet festival apologize for song about prison rape | Canada | Ne