What's it about?
Joan of Arc: Into the Fire is the story of a young girl, Joan, who is able to speak to and receive visions from God and she works with the French army to save France from English power. She eventually finds herself facing persecution and is burned at the stake, under order by Pro-English Bishop Pierre Cauchon, for her presumed blasphemy.
What I experienced?
What are you willing to sacrifice for your freedom?
Is faith strong enough to endure the pain of punishment, even for the innocent?
Going into the theatre to see this show, I had honestly zero expectations. I didn't even know who Joan of Arc was. But when I was offered the opportunity to cross "see a show at the Public" off my bucket list, I obviously couldn't say no.
Once the show began, I knew this show was going to be special for me. One of the very first lines was "what would you give for your freedom?" and while this question has been of importance, especially in our country for hundreds of years, it was an excellent opening to keep my longing to watch more. I was immediately drawn to the music and the cast. The music and the production of the show was very much like a rock concert. There were a lot of strobe lights. The guitar players are on risers and Joan even uses a mic stand multiple times during some of her musical numbers. The cast is a lot of men, except for Joan and her mother, but it is wonderfully diverse. It kind of felt like I was watching a concert with a plot. What sold that even more was the fact that this show has little to no dialogue. It relies mostly on song and movement to tell the story, which I'd never really seen done before.
I was mostly drawn to Joan's story and how much it reminded me of my personal faith. As a Christian, it's not very often that I see Godly faith represented. Joan's faith and total trust in God was so inspiring to watch. Her willingness to put herself on the line and encourage an army and country to trust in something they couldn't see was so beautiful. Throughout the show and watching Joan's journey, I kept thinking about Jesus and how much his sacrifice, love and all encompassing faith is reflective in Joan's actions. Even when she has her doubts - which she does begin to have later on when she is captured by the Church - she is burned at the stake giving all of her trust to God.
I kept thinking to myself as a Believer myself "would I make the same decisions? Would I allow myself to be tortured for my cause even if all it takes to stop it is to say what the enemy wants to hear?" When Joan is put to the stake and burned, that scene definitely made me emotional. Watching an innocent girl (she's only 19 at this point) be killed at the hands of the church is just awful. I think that, in and of itself, is what makes it so hard to watch because it's the Bishop who makes the call to do this - someone who in theory should be the one to not want to do any harm to an innocent person. But this moment again reminded me of Jesus' death and how it all came down to the Church in his case as well. It's so crazy to see how much history will continue to repeat - it's like we never learn.
One scene that I really enjoyed was the scene where Rodrick Covington, who plays one of the Priests in this piece, speaks to Joan after her trial about one particular section of the Bible that refers to different parts of the body. The way he chooses to interpret the Bible in this case is totally wrong and in support of evil and punishment but it was performed in a way that provided comic relief, so I had no choice but to find it so funny. Rodrick and the rest of the Priests perform this number with so much flair and humor that, even though what they're saying is terrible, it was really enjoyable to watch.
Overall, this show connected to me and my faith in a profound way. It made me question how I would behave if I were in Joan's situation and if I would make the same choices. It also showed off the power of a woman!! How this teenage girl led a country to freedom and is still to this day considered a heroine and a martyr - how totally badass!