Press release for immediate distribution

39th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

 Additional dates for


A theatrical odyssey based on slave songs

Montréal, Thursday, March 29, 2018
— In view of the impressive audience response to SLĀV, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, presented by TD Bank Group in collaboration with Rio Tinto, is delighted to unveil additional dates for the spectacle. Five new performances, July 10 to 14, 2018, at 8 p.m., in Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, will be added to the eleven previously announced. Tickets for these shows directed by Robert Lepage, produced by Ex Machina and starring Betty Bonifassi, go on sale today at noon.

Based on traditional African-American chants, immortalized by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, SLĀV is an odyssey from North to South, a journey from slavery to segregation to mass incarceration, still present today, to finally arrive at the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s.

As director, multidisciplinary artist Robert Lepage is internationally renowned for his supremely original approach, upending the conventions of scenic writing, often making innovative use of new technologies.

The cast includes six choristers, and stars incomparable singer Betty Bonifassi, whose celebrated albums Chants d’esclaves, chants d’espoir and Lomax—vibrant tributes to the spiritual resilience, dignity and beauty of African slaves transported to America—are the core influences of this project.

SLĀV examines genres of song and chant: call songs, to accompany awakening slaves; work songs, to punctuate their gestures repeated a thousand times on railway sites; gandy dancers’ railroad songs, emphasizing the backbreaking efforts required to lay tracks; the less rhythmic field songs, to ease the boredom of picking cotton and tobacco; prisoners’ songs, speaking of lost liberty; and the laments and lullabies, to mark the end of another day’s hard labour, expressing hope about one day being free.

And since the show is directed by Robert Lepage, the subject is richly illustrated: archival film projections, a set design with rail tracks unfolding on the ground and in the air, and traces of secret codes, embroidered on quilts, to guide the fleeing slaves on the underground railroad to freedom… In short, the show promises to be a compelling, visual and theatrical treat.

One thing is certain, this collaboration promises an astonishing staging experience in a grand musical-theatrical celebration of the freedom of the human spirit.

Conception and interpretation: Betty Bonifassi and six choristers
Conception and stage direction: Robert Lepage
Conception and creative direction: Steve Blanchet
Production: Ex Machina
Duration: 100 minutes, approximately

Tickets on sale today at noon

Théâtre du Nouveau Monde: 84 Ste. Catherine Street West; 514 866-8668 —

The 39th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal will be held from June 28 to July 7, 2018.

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