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It was last Spring when Jeremy Fiebig first presented me with the idea of doing Saint Joan as part of the Honey series. I was asked if I’d be interested in possibly playing her.
At the time, and for quite a while, I felt nothing but excitement. I would be playing an icon, a well known symbol, but then it hit me- I didn’t know that much about Joan of Arc as a person, all that I knew of her could be reduced to a few bullet points:
Dressed as a soldier and went to battle
Burned at the stake.
These alone did not make up a real person I could relate to. I had many questions, so I started some research. I watched some documentaries, did some reading, and of course read the text of Shaw’s play. To say there were surprises would be an understatement. I had never known the details about why Joan dressed as a soldier and entered battle. I had assumed that while dressed as a soldier she had assumed a male identity, which turned out not to be the case. She dressed in men’s clothing but never hid the fact that she was a young woman. She went into battle along with men, though historians disagree as to whether or not she directly engaged in combat. Pretty interesting things to happen to a teenage girl in that time. Obviously, she must have been a strong person to have been willing to do all of that–but what did that strength look like? Where did it come from?
One thing historians agree upon about Joan is her unwavering faith and love of God. She believed she could accomplish anything because God was on her side. Her faith in his protection gave her the confidence to be bold, but there were times when she didn’t need to yell or fight. Her faith was so strong that it spoke for itself. She didn’t need to argue: she lived her truth. She was brave enough to show her feelings, be they fear, hurt, or joy in the love of God. Finding these different types of strength within the script has been a real joy and a real challenge. I have tried to approach every rehearsal with an open mind and open heart–trying to find how Joan is feeling in each moment. Sure, she is strong, but is she laughing off her enemies? Is she digging her heels in and not giving up? Or is she trying share her love of God with those around her? How does one lead to another? What causes those changes? So many things to explore! As we move from the rehearsal process to performance, I hope to continue to find her strength, in new places and new ways, and I hope you will join us for SaintJoan.