One-Woman Joan of Arc Play Has a Thirtieth Anniversary Revival at the San Miguel Playhouse
By Fredric Dannen
“Once in every four or five hundred years, a person comes from out of nowhere and changes the world. Joan of Arc was such a person.”
So says John Morrow, whose play, Joan of Arc: A Vision Through Fire, opened in Los Angeles in 1989 and is about to have its thirtieth-anniversary revival in a new production at the San Miguel Playhouse. Produced by Players Workshop, the work will be directed by Morrow himself.
Morrow is hardly the first author to be fascinated by the Maid of Orléans. Voltaire dramatized her in an epic poem, as did Mark Twain in a serialized novel and George Bernard Shaw in one of his final plays.
Morrow wrote his theater piece to be performed by a single virtuoso actress portraying Joan and a half-dozen other characters. Juni Dahr, a Norwegian actress who studied at the Actors Studio in New York, was the first to inhabit the role of Joan in Morrow’s play, and she went on to reprise the role in Russia, Scandinavia, and in a 1992 movie version on Norwegian television.
French-Canadian actress Valérie Fortin, who last April made her San Miguel debut as Marilyn Monroe in the rock musical Souled Out, has been cast as the Maid of Orléans. Founder of the Montreal theater company Les Extantriques, Fortin is one of the most accomplished theater professionals now living in San Miguel.
Peter Ross will provide live shakuhachi flute music.
Joan of Arc: A Vision through Fire will be performed in English with Spanish supertitles. Unlike the bawdy Souled Out, Morrow’s play, which takes a third of its text from Joan’s own testimony at her 1431 trial, is a reverent account suitable for the entire family.
The real-life Jeanne d’Arc said she was compelled to leave her peasant life to become a military hero at the urging of Saint Margaret, Saint Catherine, and Saint Michael, whom she saw and heard in mystical visions. Those visions have been ascribed by some to a neurological disorder, and by others, notably Bernard Shaw, as the imagination of a genius. Morrow and Fortin have a different interpretation.
“She wasn’t a genius,” Morrow says. “She was just very connected, grounded to the earth, and driven by confidence.”
There will be eight performances of Joan of Arc, on Thursdays through Sundays, from November 21 to December 1. All performances are at 7pm, except for the Sunday shows, which are 3pm matinees. Reserved-seat tickets are 250 and 150 pesos, and 50 pesos for students. Buy them at Boleto City, located in the Mercado Sano, Monday–Saturday, 11am–5pm, and online at boletocity.com.
The San Miguel Playhouse is located at Avenida Independencia 82 and features free secured parking and taxi concierge service.
Joan of Arc: A Vision through Fire
Nov 21–Dec 1
Thu, Fri, Sat, 7pm
San Miguel Playhouse
Av Independencia 82
250 and 150 pesos
50 pesos for students
Boleto City, Mercado Sano
Online tickets: boletocity.com