"You cannot explain Joan, any more than you can explain the tiniest flower growing by the wayside."
So said Jean Anouilh in the programme note for his play about Joan of Arc -"that little lark, soaring and singing in the French sky".
1431. Claiming divine inspiration, Joan, a peasant girl from Lorraine, has galvanized France into making a stand against the occupying English régime. After leading the French army to several spectacular victories, she is captured and put on trial. Mixing high drama with comedy, Anouilh presents her story in a series of flashbacks as she fights for her life before a politically-motivated Church Court which sees her belief in the heavenly voices that guided her as evidence of heresy - or worse. . .
First performed in Paris in 1952, this play provides an alternative - and, arguably, more dramatically convincing - take on this enigmatic heroine than Shaw's more familiar "Saint Joan".
This production by the Woodhouse Players will use a new translation by director Gill Taylor, the first to be approved for performance in the UK since Christopher Fry's 1955 version.