Yesterday 95% of Cirque du Soleil employees got the bad news that they were being laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis. That’s 4,679 more souls sans income during this shit storm. Last week, company members were told they’d be kept on in order to get shows back up and running fast post-corona. But on Wednesday night, they got an email saying to stay tuned for an “important announcement”. Then, the next day, employees received a video from CEO Daniel Lamarre, letting them know they were out of jobs.
Lamarre laid off 95 percent of the company’s workers, including administrative staff and artistic directors in a bizarre two-minute video. “I wish I had a chance to speak to you in person,” Lamarre says in the video. “Unfortunately, given the current pandemic, a video was the best option for me to speak to all of you at the same time, and most importantly, protect your health.”
“The tone was just weird,” the source says, “especially [from] a man I’ve met like once wearing Bono sunglasses.”
Um, I LOVE the source’s drive-by Bono insult, which ees zee crème de la crème:
Here’s the video, but please note that it’s in French, so, unless you speak the language of love, you’re shit outta luck.
But wait, there’s more weird drama:
Fifteen minutes after receiving the video, a select group of employees were given access to a conference call, where the now-former staffers thought they might receive more information. Instead, a former employee says, employees listened for a further eight minutes during which a person, identified by a representative for Cirque du Soleil as a department head, came on the line and “nervously yelled at us” before telling listeners that WWII was the only economic crisis he could think to compare the current predicament to and hanging up the phone as questions poured in.
When in doubt, cite World War Two! Hell, throw Hitler in there if ya can. The source went on to say that everyone was “confused, shocked, and scrambling”. Full time staff were told they’d get up to six months of health insurance, but they won’t be able to cash in any of their banked time off or unused sick days. If they did, it would be like they “quit”, and then they wouldn’t be able to collect unemployment.
Here’s the company’s official statement:
Cirque du Soleil forced to layoff 4,679 of its employees….95% of its entire workforce. pic.twitter.com/Y3nHNvI0W3
— Sarah Leavitt (@sarahleavittcbc) March 19, 2020
Later, a PR manager for Cirque du Soleil reached out to Jezebel via email and said this:
Yes the video was hard to watch. You have to understand that Daniel has been leading the company for years. He knows almost everyone by name at our Montreal headquarters. He truly cares about the people who work alongside him. This week has been hard on everyone, Daniel included, which may explain.
At first I imagined a wild increase in super-bendy street performers, then I realized that Cirque du Soleil also has ushers, directors, office workers, and other admin who can’t rely on their bends. Either way, it’s yet another “fuck you” from that coronabitch and Big Business.
Let’s remember Cirque du Soleil in happier times: