William Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theater is to stage a production of Joan of Arc. The theater plans to depict the historical figure as a non-binary person who uses “they/them” pronouns.
Advertising for the production, titled I, Joan, illustrated a woman wearing a chest binding and chainmail.
To beat political fall out the theater announced that it was “not the first to present Joan in this way” and that it will also “not be the last.” This is partially true as Joan of Arc, like many women in history, did have to dress like men to achieve their goals. However, Joan historically was known as a woman by her Catholic Church Superiors. The theater, however, uses the excuse of creative license to further their current political favoring.
“Shakespeare did not write historically accurate plays. He took figures of the past to ask questions about the world around him,” reads the message from Michelle Terry, the Artistic Director of the Globe. “Our writers of today are doing no different, whether that’s looking at Ann Boleyn, Nell Gwynn, Emilia Bassano, Edward II, or Joan of Arc.”
Joan of Arc was an actual historic hero for the French who was born in 1412. She was later canonized by the catholic church in 1920. Born a peasant she claimed she had been ordered by God to lead the French army against the English during the Hundred Years’ War. King Charles VII granted her request and she eventually lead the French army to victory.
Like all heroes tend to go her supporters eventually turned on her and at the age of 19, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. The reasoning by the King, who was ruled by the Catholic Church, gave for her execution was for heresy, as well as blasphemy, by donning male clothes.
“History has provided countless and wonderful examples of Joan portrayed as a woman,” the Globe stated. “This production is simply offering the possibility of another point of view. That is the role of theatre: to simply ask the question ‘imagine if?'”
The theater’s message also included a summary of the current cultural values, noting its commitment “to becoming an inclusive and diverse organization, and making necessary change is at the heart of our strategic aims for the organization.”
“This includes becoming pro-trans, anti-racist, and taking positive, conscious, and intentional action against any form of prejudice present in our culture,” said the Globe.
The theater’s decision was taken by many as an insult to women and an undermining of feminist values.
The Daily Mail reports that Heather Binnings, founder of the Women’s Right Network, said “this demonstrates just how our arts and creative industries have taken on the woke mantle without realizing that ‘being kind’ to one group of people actually hurts and damages another important and fundamental group.”
“Joan of Arc was female. Her early years were spent cooking and cleaning and looking after the animals. When she was 10 she had a vision that she was to fight for France. In order to do this she took on the outward appearance of being male.
This had nothing to do with ‘feelings’ and everything to do with the biological reality and disadvantage that being female brought. Many women throughout the ages have had to adopt ‘maleness’ in order to be taken seriously and advance their ambition.
To rewrite female history is an insult. Using they/them pronouns for an individual is grammatically incorrect and ugly, and confusing to many in society who struggle with language.”
I, Joan opens in London on Aug. 25.