Globe Theatre portrays Joan of Arc as non-binary with the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ in new play

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater is portraying historical icon Joan of Arc as non-binary, claiming its own storm and ‘violation of history’.

I, Joan’s new production is billed as ‘powerful and hilarious’ and ‘questioning the gender binary’.

But while it’s yet to open at the world-famous venue on August 25, pre-publication French uses the pronouns ‘it’ and ‘them’ to refer to historical figures.

A separate post on the history of warrior-saints does the same, ‘For who Joan really was, perhaps the most accurate descriptor for him is simply “icon”.’

This afternoon the theater defended itself and insisted that the show uses the pronouns ‘they/them’ – confirming the title figure – and insisting that Shakespeare would have approved.

But today an academic told MailOnline that it ‘totally violates the meaning of history’ and that the real-life heroine is completely foreign to her time.

Joan has been adopted as a feminist icon and the suffrage movement even featured on their posters.

Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent, told MailOnline: ‘Playwrights are allowed a bit of poetic license but I think the interesting thing about drama is that it deals with the idea of ​​rewriting history.

Joan of Arc is one of the most famous and inspiring women and saints in French history

Joan of Arc is one of the most famous and inspiring women and saints in French history

Joan will be played in the new I,Joan show by Isobel Thom and directed by Ilinca Radulian

Joan will be played in the new I,Joan show by Isobel Thom and directed by Ilinca Radulian

A publicity photo for a new play at The Globe, which has caused some controversy

A publicity photo for a new play at The Globe, which has caused some controversy

Life of Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc was born in 1412 into a pious Catholic family of farmers.

She began hearing voices at the age of 13 and believed that she had been chosen by God to lead France to victory against England in the Hundred Years’ War.

She convinced Charles of Valois to lead an army to the besieged city of Orleans, where they were victorious.

But after the prince became King Charles VII, Joan was captured by English allies, the Burgundians.

She was tried for witchcraft, heresy and dressing as a man, History.com reports.

Keen to distance himself from the accused witch, Charles VII did not come to her aid.

Joan initially claimed to have heard voices and seen visions of saints, but under duress, she believed her claims that she had ever received divine guidance in her mission to put Charles on the throne.

The story goes that a few days after she did this, she went against the order by wearing men’s clothing and was sentenced to death as a result.

In 1431, aged just 19, she was burned at the stake in the market place of Rouen.

Some 20 years later, however, a new trial ordered by Charles VII cleared her name

Joan of Arc was canonized in 1920 and is one of the most famous saints in history.

‘Reinterpretation breaks historical reality. He is robbing history to legitimize the views of the here and now.

‘Someone like Joan of Arc has no idea what non-binary is. It is a reimagining of something that did not exist at the time.

‘It completely defies the meaning of history – it is the backward projection of an idea.

‘I imagine that in time someone will suggest that Jane Austen was transgender or George Eliot was non-binary.

‘It completely defies the meaning of history – it is the backward projection of an idea.

‘Joan of Arc is very special to French patriots. Her role was more heroic because she was a woman.’

The ongoing debate about gender identity means the move by the Globe – which was given £3million of taxpayers’ money in 2020 to help it through the pandemic – is sure to fuel controversy.

It is unclear whether the play was run or funded by the Globe itself. Isobel Thome plays the lead role.

The play is written by Charlie Josephine who is non-binary and uses s/he pronouns according to their website.

In an interview about I, Joan, the author said of the production: ‘It’s going to be a big sweaty, weird, revolutionary, rebellious, joyous celebration.

‘It’s a big story, on a big stage, Joan of Arc was an incredible historical figure.

‘Joan was a working-class, young person who was transgressing gender at a time when it was really dangerous and that felt instantly relatable to me.

‘I was destined to be a woman at birth. I’m non-binary, I’m from a working class background. I have often felt that I had something to say and was not allowed to say it.

‘So to have the opportunity to write a play about a character, even trying to do that, I thought, oh this is too good to be true.

Rehearsals for Shakespeare's new play opening later this month at The Globe Theatre

Rehearsals for Shakespeare’s new play opening later this month at The Globe Theatre

One of the word's most famous attractions is the Globe Theater on London's South Bank

One of the word’s most famous attractions is the Globe Theater on London’s South Bank

Advance publicity for the upcoming show states that Joan is non-binary and uses the pronouns 'they' or 'them'.

Advance publicity for the upcoming show states that Joan is non-binary and uses the pronouns ‘they’ or ‘them’.

Theater artistic director Michelle Terry insists Shakespeare ‘would have approved’

Shakespeare did not write historically accurate plays. He took statistics from the past to ask questions about the world today. Our writers today do no different, whether they are looking at Anne Boleyn, Nell Gwynne, Emilia Bassano, Edward II or Joan of Arc.

‘The Globe is a place of imagination. A place where, for a while, we can at least consider the possibilities elsewhere in the world. We’ve had complete storms on stage, sinking ships, twins who aren’t trustworthy, and even the queen of the fairies falling in love with a donkey.

‘Shakespeare’s Globe is proud to present a new play, I, Joan and Joan as the legendary leader, who uses the pronouns ‘they/them’ in this production. The production is still in production and will open on August 25 at the open-air Globe Theatre. We’re not the first to present Joan this way, and we won’t be the last. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of ‘them’ to refer to a singular person, particularly in response to the use of pronouns, as early as 1375, just before Joan’s birth. But theaters do not deal with ‘historical reality’. Theaters produce plays and in plays anything is possible.

‘Joan’s Army will be made up of hundreds of ‘groundlings’ standing in the yard, all coming to see the play for £5 – the most accessible ticket price in a London theatre. We hope this £5 ticket will invite as many people as possible to come and have their own opinion and show kindness, curiosity and respect even if we don’t agree with each other.

It was no accident that Shakespeare moved his playhouse outside the jurisdiction of the London City Wall. He wanted to play. Play with ideas of identity, power, happiness, and all sides of the argument. Shakespeare had the ability to imagine the lives of 1,223 characters, understand the perspectives and differences, and express them so beautifully that we still enjoy his work 400 years later.

Over the centuries, Joan has been a cultural icon depicted in countless plays, books, movies, etc. History has provided countless and wonderful examples of Joan being portrayed as a woman. This product is simply offering another approach. That’s the role of theater: just “Imagine?” Asking this question.

‘So it’s a big, huge thing that I want to get right and I really care.’

Director Ilinka Radulian added: ‘We’re trying to do something that puts people in Joan’s shoes, in Joan’s body, like, with that mission, with those questions and that sense of possibility.

‘We want to take the audience on a journey of discovery with Joan.’

Charlie added: ‘It’s like an extension of a historical figure, yes and I hope that opens up new possibilities for empathy and new possibilities for understanding for everyone.

Michelle Terry, artistic director of the Globe, said the production was asking the audience to think differently.

She said: ‘Shakespeare did not write historically accurate plays. He took statistics from the past to ask questions about the world today. Our writers today do no different, whether they are looking at Anne Boleyn, Nell Gwynne, Emilia Bassano, Edward II or Joan of Arc.

‘The Globe is a place of imagination. A place where, for a while, we can at least consider the possibilities elsewhere in the world. We’ve had complete storms on stage, sinking ships, twins who aren’t trustworthy, and even the queen of the fairies falling in love with a donkey.

‘Shakespeare’s Globe is proud to present a new play, I, Joan and Joan as the legendary leader, who uses the pronouns ‘they/them’ in this production. The production is still in production and will open on August 25 at the open-air Globe Theatre. We’re not the first to present Joan this way, and we won’t be the last. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of ‘them’ to refer to a singular person, particularly in response to the use of pronouns, as early as 1375, just before Joan’s birth. But theaters do not deal with ‘historical reality’. Theaters produce plays and in plays anything is possible.

‘Joan’s Army will be made up of hundreds of ‘groundlings’ standing in the yard, all coming to see the play for £5 – the most accessible ticket price in a London theatre. We hope this £5 ticket will invite as many people as possible to come and have their own opinion and show kindness, curiosity and respect even if we don’t agree with each other.

It was no accident that Shakespeare moved his playhouse outside the jurisdiction of the London City Wall. He wanted to play. Play with ideas of identity, power, happiness, and all sides of the argument. Shakespeare had the ability to imagine the lives of 1,223 characters, understand the perspectives and differences, and express them so beautifully that we still enjoy his work 400 years later.

Over the centuries, Joan has been a cultural icon depicted in countless plays, books, movies, etc. History has provided countless and wonderful examples of Joan being portrayed as a woman. This product is simply offering another approach. That’s the role of theater: just “Imagine?” Asking this question.

Dev

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