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A project by Milo Rau
´Soon to vanish fruitlessly from this world / I say to you: / Take care that when you leave the world / You have not merely been good, but are leaving / A better world!’ (Bertolt Brecht, Saint Joan of the Stockyards)
National heroine or religious warrior, idealist or heretic: What was she, actually – this symbolic figure of the resistance, this most-famous virgin save the Mother of God, this peasant girl who expelled the English from France and ever since has been co-opted by both right- and left-wing ideologues? Born in 1412, burned in 1431, rehabilitated in 1456, canonised in 1920. She went to battle and chose to face execution rather than disavow her divine mission and the angels that had appeared to her. Jeanne d’Arc: plagued by visions, or a visionary?
From Shakespeare to Voltaire, Schiller to Brecht, authors and playwrights have drawn inspiration from Saint Joan. At the Residenztheater, Milo Rau elaborates a Jeanne d’Arc for our times. On the basis of personal experience as well as discussions and encounters with activists, he develops a portrait full of ambiguities, one that challenges the work of dedicated artists and intellectuals. The female politicians and revolutionaries, women who take up arms for the Kurdish peshmerga, avant-garde women of the radical left and the nationalist right, American female parlour socialists and Latin American guerrilleras: Where are they to be found, the Jeanne d’Arcs of our time? What do they fight against, and what do they founder on? What is it that drives someone to take on the misery of the world – only to perhaps herself become a perpetrator in the end?