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

Joan of Arc is one of the most famous and inspiring women in French history and a saint
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Shakespeare’s Globe Theater portrays historical icon Joan of Arc non-binary, raising its very own storm and claims of ‘violating history’.

A new production of I, Joan is being billed as ‘powerful and joyful’ and ‘questioning the gender binary’.

But while it is still open at the world-famous venue on August 25, pre-publicity uses the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ as referring to the French historical figure.

A separate history post about the warrior saint even does the same thing, explaining ‘who Joan really was, perhaps the most accurate description for her is simply “icon”.’

This afternoon, the theater defended itself and confirmed the titular figure ‘Uses the pronouns ‘they/them” in the show – and insisted that Shakespeare would have been approved.

But one academic told MailOnline today that it has ‘completely violated the meaning of history’ and recast the real heroine in terms completely foreign to her time.

Joan has been adopted as a feminist icon and even featured on her posters for the suffragette movement.

Frank Furedi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, told MailOnline: ‘Playwrights may have a bit of poetic licence, but I think what’s interesting about the play is that it very much appeals to the idea of ​​rewriting history.

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

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

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

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

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

The 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 God had chosen her to lead France to victory against England in the 100 Years War.

She convinced Charles of Valois to let her lead the army to the besieged city of Orléans, where they won.

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, among 70 charges, History.com reported.

Skilled at distancing himself from the accused witch, Charles VII did not come to her aid.

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

The story goes that she went against orders by wearing men’s clothes days after doing this and was sentenced to death as a result.

She was just 19 years old, in 1431, burned at the stake in the market of Rouen.

About 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.

‘The reinterpretation violates the historical reality. It is plundering history to legitimize views in the here and now.

‘Someone like Joan of Arc would have no idea what non-binary was. It’s a recharacterization of something that didn’t even exist back then.

‘It is completely contrary to the meaning of history – it is the projection of a fantasy backwards.

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

‘It is completely contrary to the meaning of history – it is the projection of a fantasy backwards.

‘For French patriots, Jeanne d’Arc is someone very special. Her role was all the more heroic because she was a woman.’

Current gender identity debates mean the move by the Globe – which received £3m of taxpayer money in 2020 to help it through the pandemic – is sure to spark controversy.

It is not clear whether the piece was commissioned or financed by the Globe itself. Isobel Thom plays the title role.

The play was written by Charlie Josephine who is non-binary and whose website says she/he uses the pronouns.

In an interview about I, Joan, the writer said about the production: ‘It will be this big sweaty, queer, revolution, rebellion, festival of equal joy.

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

‘Joan was this working class, young person, who was transgressing gender at a time when it was really dangerous and that I felt immediately related to.

‘I was assigned a woman at birth. I am non-binary, I come from a working class background. I often feel like I had something to say and wasn’t given permission to say it.

‘So to get an opportunity to write a play about a character, which is also trying to do that, I was like, uh, it’s too good to be true.

Rehearsals of the new play opening at Shakespeare's The Globe Theater later this month

Rehearsals of the new play opening at Shakespeare’s The Globe Theater later this month

The Globe Theatre, on the South Bank in London, is one of the most famous attractions in the world

The Globe Theatre, on the South Bank in London, is one of the most famous attractions in the world

Pre-publicity for the upcoming show says Joan is non-binary and uses pronouns 'she' or 'them'

Pre-publicity for the upcoming show says Joan is non-binary and uses pronouns ‘she’ or ‘them’

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

‘Shakespeare did not write historically accurate plays. He took figures from the past to ask questions about today’s world. Our writers today are no different, whether looking at Ann Boleyn, Nell Gwynn, Emilia Bassano, Edward II, or Joan of Arc.

‘The Globe is a place of imagination. A place where, for a short time, we can at least consider the possibility of worlds elsewhere. We’ve had whole storms take place on stage, sinking ships, twins who don’t seem to believe anything, and even a fairy queen who falls in love with a donkey.

‘Shakespeare’s Globe proudly presents a new play, I, Joan with Joan as a legendary leader, who uses the pronouns ‘she/them’ in this production. The production is still being made and will open on August 25 in the outdoor Globe Theatre. We are not the first to present Joan in this way, and we will not be the last. To specifically respond to the use of pronouns, the use of ‘she’ to refer to a singular person has been traced by the Oxford English Dictionary as far back as 1375, years before Joan was even born. 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 a play for £5 – the most accessible ticket price in London theatre. We hope this £5 ticket will invite as many people as possible to come and have their own opinion, and even if we don’t agree with each other, still show kindness, curiosity and respect.

‘It was no accident that Shakespeare moved his playhouse outside the jurisdiction of London’s city walls. He wanted to play. Play with identity, power, with the idea of ​​pleasure, and with all sides of an argument. Shakespeare had the ability to imagine the lives of 1,223 characters, he could understand perspectives and differences and express them so beautifully that we still enjoy his work more than 400 years later.

‘For centuries, Joan has been a cultural icon depicted in countless plays, books, films, etc. History has provided countless and beautiful examples of Joan portrayed as a woman. This production simply offers the possibility of a different point of view. That is the role of theatre: simply the question “imagine if?”.’

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

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

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

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

Michelle Terry, artistic director of the Globe, said the production asked the audience to consider something different.

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

‘The Globe is a place of imagination. A place where, for a short time, we can at least consider the possibility of worlds elsewhere. We’ve had whole storms take place on stage, sinking ships, twins who don’t seem to believe anything, and even a fairy queen who falls in love with a donkey.

‘Shakespeare’s Globe proudly presents a new play, I, Joan with Joan as a legendary leader, who uses the pronouns ‘she/them’ in this production. The production is still being made and will open on August 25 in the outdoor Globe Theatre. We are not the first to present Joan in this way, and we will not be the last. To specifically respond to the use of pronouns, the use of ‘she’ to refer to a singular person has been traced by the Oxford English Dictionary as far back as 1375, years before Joan was even born. 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 a play for £5 – the most accessible ticket price in London theatre. We hope this £5 ticket will invite as many people as possible to come and have their own opinion, and even if we don’t agree with each other, still show kindness, curiosity and respect.

‘It was no accident that Shakespeare moved his playhouse outside the jurisdiction of London’s city walls. He wanted to play. Play with identity, power, with the idea of ​​pleasure, and with all sides of an argument. Shakespeare had the ability to imagine the lives of 1,223 characters, he could understand perspectives and differences and express them so beautifully that we still enjoy his work more than 400 years later.

‘For centuries, Joan has been a cultural icon depicted in countless plays, books, films, etc. History has provided countless and beautiful examples of Joan portrayed as a woman. This production simply offers the possibility of a different point of view. That is the role of theatre: simply the question “imagine if?”.’

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