There are few things I enjoy more than rainy days indoors, having my mind opened by impressive and astounding minds on grand and hopeful things.

A hurried and crooked park in my ancient car in a nearby parking station… hurried rush into a theatre/church on Kent Street: The Genesian Theatre. Returning to their roots Kevin Jackson and Ken Healy to provide insight and context to an upcoming project: Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan. The blurb went like this:

“On Saturday 2nd June we begin the process of developing the Genesian production of Saint Joan. You are invited to meet at 10am at the Theatre for an introduction to the play from director Kevin Jackson, to be followed by guest speakers talking on George Bernard Shaw, and the Joan of Arc legend and historical period.
* An introductory talk on Medieval History by Dr Jennifer Carpenter from the Australian Catholic University, at 10am. A Q&A will follow.
* Lunch Break at 12 noon.
* An introductory talk to the life and work of G.B. Shaw by Ken Healey, a lecturer on the History of Theatre at the University of NSW and at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) at 1 pm. A Q&A session will follow.”

How could I resist?

One of my favourite touch-tomes is GBS’ The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (I mentioned previously in my Pygmalion review… ) GBS is an awesome thinker – and an example of exquisite ruminations on theatre for which I believe him to be a truly transcendent critic. How could I miss out?

Joan of Arc is a stunning historical figure – at 16 years of age, illiterate and a peasant she found a way to infiltrate the French army and lead it – she was inspired by the voices of three angels – Catherine, Margaret and Michael – who told her to recover the homeland from the English. By the age of 19 she was burnt at the stake – remaining calm in her resolve. As a figure she is the emblem of conviction, strength, ambition, focus: and has haunted artworks since eg: William Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part 1), Voltaire (The Maid of Orleans), Friedrich Schiller (The Maid of Orleans), Giuseppe Verdi (Giovanna d’Arco), Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (The Maid of Orleans), Mark Twain (Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc), Arthur Honegger (Jeanne d’Arc au bĂ»cher), Jean Anouilh (L’Alouette), Bertolt Brecht (Saint Joan of the Stockyards), George Bernard Shaw (Saint Joan) and Maxwell Anderson (Joan of Lorraine).

Now Kevin Jackson will be formulating a production which is sure to be a highlight for Genesian Theatre patrons: the toughest challenge ahead for him is finding a “Joan.” The original Joan in GBS’s premiere was in her 40s as Mr Healy pointed out on Sunday – I wonder how this information will bear on KJs casting choice?

And my cheeky question from the floor after the presentation:
Joan had a clear vision and was on a crusade, GBS was also on a crusade due to his vision – what is your vision and crusade for this production? And his response a slow and clear paragraph on the honouring of exceptional writing and providing an opportunity for audiences to be engaged with such an impressive classic text (paraphrased by me).

I for one am extremely excited and eagerly await this production in November. I think the Genesian and KJ have a few more seminars ahead and I’ll be sure to surrender my Saturdays to some more stimulating conversation and lectures.