Shaw, G. B. Saint Joan.
(Lorraine in France, 1429)
The English king, married to the daughter of the French queen, controls half of France and Paris. The French queen denies the legitimacy of Dauphin, her son. The weak Dauphin is not supposed to be able to fight for Orleans and stop the English. Joan, a young country girl from Lorraine, comes to the military squire and demands armour and soldiers to raise the siege of Orleans. Claims she acts according to the voices of St Catharine and Margaret she hears.
(the castle of Chinon)
Joan, called the Maid by her soldiers, manages to make her way to the castle where Dauphin is hiding. The news of the miracles she acted out spread over the country. Joan impresses the men present, esp. the Archbishop of Rheims who claims she is in love with religion, with the strength of her conviction and her humbleness. Urges Dauphin to behave like a king and fight for Orleans, claims this is the will of God, but Dauphin refuses. Instead he appoints Joan the head of his army.
(the French camp at Orleans)
Dunois, called Bastard of Orleans, claims Joan is in love with war, and giver her over the command of his troop.
(the English camp at Orleans)
Joan has defended Orleans. English feudal lords and religious fathers develop an argument about religion. Earl of Warwick, a feudal lord, believes the authorities of feudal lords and of the Church prevent people to think of England as of their country – a man cannot serve two masters. Cauchon, a reverend and bishop, condemns Joan for trying to dismiss the Church as an intermediary between God and man in favour of her illusion to be in a direct connection with God. The English believe they have the right from God to rule over the less civilised races for their own sake.
(the cathedral of Rheims)
Dauphin is crowned King Charles the Seventh. Joan falls from favour with all the court, the church, and the king. Considered proud, refuses any authority but that of the voices she hears. Foresees her own death within a year. Plans to conquer Paris and return to her father's farm.
Joan captured and imprisoned by the English. Accused and tried for heresy. Refuses to accept the result of the court – God is the first to be obeyed, then the Church. Forced to sign a recantation of her heresy not to be excommunicated from the Church and not to be sentenced to death. Sings, but as she realises she would be perpetually imprisoned, she tears the document to pieces, unable to imagine to live and not to be free to see the sky, fields, or flowers. Realises she is to be burnt and must confess the voices she heard were deceiving her. Some of the persecutors believe Joan innocent, one of them holds a cross before her so that she could see it. Joan dies looking up to heaven and calling her Saviour.
Joan comes in dream to Charles VII, now called Charles the Victorious. The persecutor who held the cross before her eyes appears, excommunicated from the Church after his death. The man who tied two sticks together and gave it to the dying Joan and who fought 15 years in the French war appears – has a day off from the hell for the single deed. Several more people appear, including another of her persecutors who turned into a virtuous man after seeing her dying. Joan executor appears to inform her heart was impossible to be burnt, it is still living. Joan learns her country is safe and herself was declared a saint in 1920. Asks whether she shall return, but nobody wants to receive her. Joan: "O God that madest this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to receive Thy saints? How long, O Lord, how long?"
AuthorShaw, George Bernard. (1856 - 1950).
Full TitleSaint Joan: A Chronicle Play in Six Scenes and an Epilogue.
First PerformedNY: 1923.
Shaw, G. B. Saint Joan. (1923). Baltimore: Penguin, 1951.