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The famed Globe Theatre, once home to playwright William Shakespeare, has announced a production on Joan of Arc in which the young saint is “non-binary” and “queer”.
“I, Joan,” a play about the life and death of Saint Joan of Arc, is set to begin airing in late August.
In the play, Saint Joan of Arc will be presented as “non-binary” and “gender nonconforming”.
“Theatres don’t deal with ‘historical reality’. Theaters produce plays, and in plays anything can be possible,” boasted the Globe on its website.
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“Shakespeare didn’t write historically accurate plays. He took characters from the past to ask questions about the world around him. Our writers today don’t make a difference whether it’s of Ann Boleyn, Nell Gwynn, Emilia Bassano, Edward II or Joan of Arc.”
Joan of Arc, born a farm girl in rural France in the 15th century, claimed to have received messages and guidance from God that would help the French kingdom repel the invading English forces.
Joan claimed to receive divine instruction through multiple visions of saints and angels. His advice and leadership on the battlefield led the French to an unlikely victory and saved the country from the English.
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Joan is often depicted wearing men’s clothing and armor for battle normally worn only by men.
However, the saint always referred to herself as a woman and insisted on being called “Jeanne the maiden”.
The Globe statement continued, “History has provided countless, wonderful examples of Joan being portrayed as a woman. This production simply offers the possibility of another point of view. That is the role of theatre: to pose simply the question ‘imagine if?’ “
Although he acknowledges having taken historical liberties, The Globe did not hesitate to categorize the young saint as “queer”.
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The Globe published alongside its announcement a companion essay in which Dr Kit Heyam, a ‘trans awareness trainer’ and ‘heritage practitioner’, claimed that Joan of Arc was indeed consciously making a statement about her gender by wearing men’s combat armor while fending off invading forces. .
“The pragmatic explanations typically offered for Joan’s gender nonconformity – military practicality, gender stereotypes, protection from sexual assault – make sense from the perspective of a society where what we wear and how we act are not understood to have an automatic link to our identity,” Heyam wrote. “But, in fact, ‘who we are’ and ‘what we do’ have never been easy to separate or untangle.”
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Heyam went on to say that Joan’s masculine attire and leadership on the battlefield was not only “practical”, but also a “spiritually motivated” act of “gender nonconformity”.
“For Joan, gender nonconformity was clearly never a practical issue,” Heyam wrote. “Joan is also part of a long cross-cultural history of people who have experienced their gender nonconformity as a spiritual motivation.”
Hayem went on to accuse other historical figures of secret queer identities, including Queen Elizabeth I.
The Globe also apparently refused to refer to the historic Jeanne as a woman in its statements.
Instead, the character and historical person Joan of Arc is referred to as “they” at all times in Globe statements and essays.
“I, Joan” opens August 25.