Theatre bosses in Canada have defended their decision to cast controversial French singer Bertrand Cantat in a new play following criticism from campaign groups.
The Noir Desir frontman was jailed in 2004 for "murder committed with indirect intent" after attacking his girlfriend, and served three years behind bars before he was released on parole in 2007.
Cantat returned to the band after his release, but the group split last year (10) and he has now turned to theatre by signing up for a role in a classical Greek tragedy at Montreal's Le Theatre du Nouveau Monde.
The casting has drawn criticism from activists, including Manon Monastesse, who runs a number of women's shelters in Quebec. She told the Canadian Press, "We are quite perplexed about this choice."
But the theatre's director, Lorraine Pintal, is adamant Cantat deserves a second chance, telling La Presse newspaper, "We can't make such a decision to allow a public figure like Bertrand Cantat - who committed this crime that we all remember - (to be in the play) without thinking that there will be a reaction from people. But I can say that I was not expecting this media storm.
"I think we can give him a second chance... There are some things that are very powerful in the collective memory, so I understand very well their opposition and their hesitation. (But) should we ourselves be judges of Bertrand Cantat?"
Pintal has also dismissed accusations that Cantat's casting is just a publicity stunt, adding, "Not at all. We never thought about the fact that Bertrand Cantat on the stage could in any way be a promotional attraction."
The play is due to begin its run in May 2012.
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