St. Joan, Notre Dame, and George Bernard Shaw

In 1456, Isabelle Romée submits an impassioned plea to clear her daughter, Joan’s, name at a trial held 25 years after her death at Notre Dame Cathedral.

On April 18, 1909, Joan of Arc is beatified by Pope Pius X at Notre Dame Cathedral.

On April 15, 2019, Notre Dame Cathedral suffers devastating damage from a fire.

On April 21, 2019, Antaeus presents St. Joan by George Bernard Shaw as part of our Classic Sundays readings.

We have been examining Joan of Arc’s life and her depictions in classic plays throughout our Classic Sundays readings this year. Joan herself was not connected to Notre Dame. In fact, she probably never saw it, as it was her failed attempt to reclaim Paris which began her fall from grace.

Yet a statue of Joan resides (or, perhaps now, resided) in Notre Dame. So when our reading commences this Sunday, it will be with the burning of Notre Dame in the back of everyone’s minds.

Theatre is a living art. At Antaeus we know this particularly well. We continue to produce classic plays, from Shakespeare to Shaw, because what those playwrights wrote are plays about human nature, which resonate no matter when or where they are produced.

Theatre lives even beyond that. Not just each production but each performance is affected by the outside world or the artists involved with the show. A person in a new relationship approaches Romeo and Juliet differently than someone recently broken up. Measure for Measure speaks to a world inflamed by the #MeToo movement.

Joan of Arc’s story was relevant despite the recent devastation of Notre Dame. A person sticking to her religious convictions despite skepticism and who defies those who attempt to silence her is relevant today. There is a special significance brought about by the burning of Notre Dame which nobody could have foreseen, but which will certainly be in the minds of the artists and audience this Sunday.

At Antaeus we attempt to produce relevant, timely classics. As Notre Dame is rebuilt it will continue to give new life and resonance to a century-old play by George Bernard Shaw and the heroine who inspired him.

 

Photo source: A New Chapter in the Story of Joan of Arc’s Ring

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