Saint Joan was the first play that I chose to direct for my newly formed company, Bedlam, in 2012. I have always enjoyed watching a group of actors work on a bare stage, pulling a story out of thin air, and Saint Joan felt like the perfect choice for that kind of work. It is a play that rests on its own words and ideas and not on spectacle and action. The words, in fact, become the action in that way only the greatest of writers, like Shaw and Shakespeare, can make happen. I knew the play could have great power over an audience; that it was both funny and moving, witty and electric. My aim has been to stay out of its way and allow Shaw’s brilliant dialogue and rhetoric to take center stage.
Like Shakespeare, Shaw is able to write three-dimensional characters, who are inspiring and frustrating, flawed and heroic, as complex as any living person. With Joan, Shaw has created one of the most exciting characters that an actor can play. Indeed, his play features an entire cast of personalities that are irresistible to embody. This may be why we have continued to perform the piece for five years and why audiences all over the country have responded so strongly to our production.
It is very exciting for us to bring this endeavor to Washington, DC and to Folger Theatre because the text resonates so strongly and is as relevant today as when Shaw wrote it. As a director and performer, I have found great joy and inspiration in this play and in Shaw’s Joan herself as I spar with her, fall in love with her, and send her to the stake on a nightly basis. I am so lucky to experience one of the greatest plays from the inside, and I think you’ll feel the same with just one viewing. But by all means, come back for more so that we have an excuse to keep doing it.
– Eric Tucker