Thursday, October 15, 2009

Joan of Arc, The Night Before, with Daniela Paluselli, September 19 - October 11

Imprisoned by the English, unransomed by Charles VII who owed his coronation to her, the 19-year-old Jeanne d'Arc was convicted of heresy by an ecclesiastical court and burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431.

From the age of 12, this illiterate girl from a peasant family had had visions of saints urging the expulsion of the English armies from France. Through force of personality she managed to reach the court of the despairing Dauphin Charles, who agreed to incorporate her as a standard bearer and leader in his army. Twenty-four years after her execution, an inquiry authorized by Pope Callixtus III declared her a martyr, unjustly convicted.

That convenient finding, at the end of the Hundred Years' War, meant that the kingship of Charles VII was freed of any taint of heresy. Jeanne has been a powerful symbol for the French people since then. The church beatified her in 1909 and in 1920 declared her a saint.

Daniella Paluselli takes for this one-woman presentation the dark despair of Jeanne's last night in prison. On a bare stage strewn with straw and furnished with only a bench, some blankets and a couple of buckets, Jeanne appears just as the order of condemnation has fallen. She has collapsed, overcome, rejecting the verdict and seized with fear. Over the course of the following 50 minutes Paluselli explores Jeanne and her dialogue with the mute voice of God.

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  1. Breathtaking!! I was drawn into the drama, the despair, the pleas, the passion of Joan of Arc, it was simply breathtaking. Words of praise cannot do this play justice, you have to be there. If you do nothing else this season, go and see this will literally take your breath away.

  2. Daniela is not only a great scientist, and a potential winner of the Nobel Prize, but is also a great actor. I wish I were there that memorable evening.