Joan

Time Out (Melbourne) - - ARTS & CULTURE -

YOU DON’T HAVE to look far in this world to see a woman pil­lo­ried for hav­ing power; it’s hard to be­lieve that the story of Joan of Arc, one of the most iconic vic­tims of the pa­tri­archy, will ever en­tirely lose its cur­rency. But cer­tainly, fol­low­ing a year in which Amer­ica con­tem­plated its first fe­male pres­i­dent, the Rab­ble’s the­atri­cal take on the 15th cen­tury Catholic war­rior (and later mar­tyr and saint) seems timely. De­vised by Rab­ble direc­tors Kate Davis and Emma Va­lente with ac­tors Luisa Hast­ings Edge, Nikki Shiels, Emily Milledge and Dana Miltins,

Joan ex­am­ines the teen cru­sader as a fe­male fig­ure­head in a man’s world. “We’re ask­ing what is the dif­fer­ence be­tween how so­ci­ety looks at a woman with sym­bolic power ver­sus one with ac­tual power?” says Davis.the Rab­ble spe­cialise in re­con­fig­ur­ing clas­sic texts from the West­ern lit­er­ary canon into fem­i­nist, queer and sur­real works of the­atre (in re­cent years, The Story

of O and Franken­stein). While Joan is a his­toric fig­ure, the mythic qual­ity of her story is an apt sub­ject: while there are many ver­sions across lit­er­a­ture, the­atre and film the only writ­ten “his­tory” is of her trial. A pi­ous Catholic who claimed to have vi­sions mark­ing her as a ‘saviour of France’, 17-year-old Joan was adopted by the French monar­chy in 1429 as a kind of ‘war mas­cot’; but when she was cap­tured in war and turned over to the English, the French lead­er­ship aban­doned her – and she was tried for heresy (among other crimes that in­cluded dress­ing like a man) and burned at the stake. “We’re es­pe­cially in­ter­ested in whether Joan would have been lis­tened to, and fol­lowed, if she was not holy, pure and a virgin,” says Davis, “and whether a con­tem­po­rary woman can hold real power with­out a cost to her body.” ■ Dee Jef­fer­son

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