SAINT JOAN

by

BERNARD SHAW

Saturday, 18th April, Monday, 20th April, Tuesday, 21st April and Wednesday, 22nd April, 1959
Programme + signatures (courtesy of Chris Meakin)
KES Magazine Review

 

Characters

IN THE ORDER OF THEIR APPEARANCE

Robert de Baudricourt

Roger Laughton

The Steward

Robert Mingay

Joan

David Mingay

Bertrand de Poulangey

John Robinson

Duc de la Tremouille

Martin Hall

The Archbishop of Rheims

Christopher Barnes

Court Page

Peter Bell

Gilles de Rais, nicknamed Bluebeard

Rodney Morant

Captain La Hire

Brian Sykes

The Dauphin, later King Charles VII

Philip Kenning

Duchess de la Tremouille

John Cunningham

Dunois

Michael Lodge

Dunois' page

Graham Siddall

Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick

Paul Johnson

Chaplain de Stogumber

David Rodgers

Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais

Stephen Linstead

Brian, Warwick's page

Peter Grimsditch

Brother John Lemaitre, the Inquisitor

David Cartwright

Canon John d'Estivet, the Promoter

John Turney

Canon de Courcelles

Michael Grundmann

Brother Martin Ladvenu

Jeremy Thorp

The Executioner

Noel Worswick

The English Soldier

Michael Sara

The Gentleman from Rome

Richard Crookes

Duc de Vendome

M. R. Robinson

Ladies in Waiting -

R. A. Hollands, D. D. Jones

Gentlemen in Waiting

C. S. Berresford, C. W. Hague, C. L Walton

Knights of the Court

J. P. Abrahams. G. B. Cash, F. W. Darwin, J. A. Hague

Pages of the Court

D. A. Booth, R. D. Harrison, A. D. Lucas, P. J. N. Thomas D. W Williams

Soldiers of the Court

P. Y. Cowling, P. W. Gurney, M. Hill

The Assessors

G. B. Cash, F. W. Darwin, A. R. Gibson, P. E. Hawksley, R. M. Hill, B. Hilton-Tapp, I. Hogg, B. H. Marsden, J. C. H. Meakin, R. Miller, J. V. Mosley, M. F. Roddis, D. J. H. Sheasby, P. A. Solway, I. M. Whitehouse

The Executioner's Assistant

G. J. Spencer

English soldiers guarding Joan

J. P.. Abrahams, J. A. Hague

Produced by Mr. R. B. CHALMERS

The Scenes
OF THE PLAY

Scene I

THE CASTLE OF VAUCOULEURS, CHAMPAGNE

Spring, 1429

Scene II

THE THRONE ROOM IN THE CASTLE OF CHINON, TOURAINE

8th March, 1429

Scene III

BEFORE DUNOIS' TENT, NEAR ORLEANS

29th April, 1429

Scene IV

WARWICK'S TENT IN THE ENGLISH CAMP

Summer, 1430

INTERVAL

Scene V

THE CATHEDRAL OF RHEIMS

Summer, 1430

Scene VI

THE GREAT HALL OF THE CASTLE OF ROUEN

30th May, 1431

The Epilogue

THE KING'S BEDCHAMBER

June, 1456

INTERVAL

There will be one interval of fifteen minutes when coffee will be served in the School Dining Hall. The audience is requested, because of the length of the second half of the play, not to linger when the bell is rung. Tickets for coffee may be purchased from the Stewards before the beginning of the play

THE COSTUMES

All the costumes have been designed by Mrs. Harold Miller and are based on contemporary Fifteenth Century illustrations

THE TEXT

By special permission of the Society of Authors, certain passages have been omitted for this production from Scenes II, III, IV, V and the Epilogue

DATES OF THE PLAY

The play was brought out in New York in 1923 and received its first English performance in 1924 with Dame Sybil Thorndike in the part of Saint Joan. The dates of this production are Saturday, 18th April, Monday, 20th April, Tuesday, 21st April and Wednesday, 22nd April, 1959

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Yearly the Dramatic Society draws on the kind help given by many friends. For the skill and time generously given by the undernamed the Producer and the Cast offer their sincere and grateful thanks

COSTUMES

Mrs. Harold Miller and the mothers of the Cast, too many to name, who made them

SET CONSTRUCTION

Mr. A. W. Surguy, Mr. J. A. Bray, Mr. J. W. Hersee, Mr. J. G. Francis, J. A. Averill, J. A. Baldwin, C. J. S. Brearley, P. H. P. Cass, J. C.. Crabtree, A: R. Dowling, M. A. Dowling, A. J. W. Edwards, P. J. Ellis, R. F. Fletcher, M. B. Jones, A. D. Lucas, C. R. J. Singleton, B. A. Wilkes (secretary of the Craft and Construction Society)

LIGHTING SET

Mr. W. K. Mace, I. Andrews, P. G. Hibbard, C. R. J. Singleton, A. W. Struthers, P. C. Wing

STAGE MANAGEMENT

Mr. P. D. Arculus, Mr. B. C. Arthur, J. H. Hemming, P. M. Hetherington, S. L. Williams

PAINTING

Mr. C. Helliwell and the Art Department

PROPERTIES

Mr. R. C. German, Mr. J. B. Lockett

MAKE-UP

Mr. E. F. Watling, Mr. J. C. Hemming, Mr. K. Bridgwater and their assistants

TICKETS

Mr. W. Birkinshaw, Mr. G. W. Taylor.

FRONT OF HOUSE MANAGER

Mr. P. J. Watson-Liddell

PUBLICITY

Mr. K. Bridgwater

MUSIC

Mr. N. J. Barnes

ORGANIST

K. Rice

PROGRAMME COVER

Mrs. P. D. C. Points

STEWARDING

The Head Prefect, the Prefects and the Sixth Form

PROMPTER

C. S. Henderson

 

" Saint Joan " April 18th - 22nd, 1959

THIS occasion will be remembered with delight by all who participated in it; and since the whole production was mounted with little or no outside help, the satisfaction will be shared by far more than a small nucleus of actors. Settings, makeup, costumes, were entirely produced by the school; the cast numbered fifty-nine; backstage helpers, set architects and builders, lighting assistants together numbered almost as many, and the mothers of the cast who helped in turn were innumerable. All are to be congratulated on a fine performance, and particularly Mr. Chalmers in being able to give the pleasure of sharing in a successful project to so many.

The play was produced on an open stage rising from floor level in a series of steps and platforms. The single setting, a solidly built arrangement of three gothic arches across the back of the stage, was varied as tent, palace, chapel or court by curtains, portable stage furniture, and such simple devices as a hanging cross banner, a stained glass window, or a picture. This proved a bold and completely successful solution; the furniture was changed, in most cases unobtrusively and swiftly, during black-outs or more naturally by the people about to use it in a scene.

Costume was similarly simple and effective. The plain dress of the monks was well done, but when simplicity would be out of place, as in the case of Warwick, and the coronation dresses of Joan, the Archbishop and the Dauphin, the costumiers excelled. Perhaps in the trial scene, with so much Dominican black in evidence, Joan needed differentiating visually in some way, although symbolically the black was undoubtedly appropriate.

In performance, although the actors were easily and clearly audible, the chief weakness was a marked lack of variety in the way the lines were spoken, as if the actors knew and understood their lines themselves and did not feel the necessity to project them. The result was a loss in impact, especially in the longer speeches, where variety is most important. This was more apparent in the first half of the play; the West Wind scene, for instance, did not have the full miraculous effect Shaw hoped for. The second half was the more absorbing, and perhaps the more rehearsed, for both actors and audience were able more sincerely to lose themselves in it. The opposite fault, of overacting, was avoided; gesture, movement and grouping were unobtrusively effective.

That there were individual excellences is indisputable. Stephen Linstead as the Bishop of Beauvais and David Cartwright as the Inquisitor were relaxed, sincere, and lent enormous strength to the scenes in which they appeared. The Bishop was totally credible as a subtle, ascetic looking, and zealous churchman in whom sincerity is so important if the trial scenes are not be be overbalanced in favour of Joan. Similar undoubted sincerity, for dramatic reasons, is required of the Inquisitor; Cartwright gave us a bland, firm yet just portrait with some originality in interpretation; he carried his long speeches extremely well.

It is difficult to remember that Joan was played by a thirteen-year-old boy with hitherto small experience. David Mingay's performance was such that we must judge him by mature standards. He showed us Joan's diabolical pride and natural humility without slipping too far into adolescent pertness or conceit, and the balance here is difficult to strike. He was at his best in the second half, in the cathedral scene, the climax of the trial, and the epilogue. One felt that he would deepen his faith and improve the variety of his speech as the run proceeded. His natural fineness of accent was perhaps a little too fine for Shaw's near-peasant girl (when she calls the Dauphin " Charley " she is using language comparable in its undiscriminating warmth to the " love " of a Sheffield bus conductress). It is a part of her humility that cannot be overlooked. Life is so simple to Joan; her accent cannot be sophisticated.

Warwick was played with diplomatic polite determination, as the one man who knew exactly what he wanted and felt about Joan, by P. Johnson. D. Rodgers as the Chaplain de Stogumber gave us a bluff patriotic portrait which was the light relief intended without being too ridiculous; and J. Thorp as Ladvenu had a belief in Joan which made us quite forget the actor behind it. Philip Kenning's Dauphin succeeded from the start in showing us a weakling who grew strong as the play progressed, and Michael Sara's swift portrait of an English goddam was a delight. Michael Lodge, as the frank friend Dunois, had a good voice and stage presence.

The handling of the crowd scenes was good, particularly in the way such large numbers of monks found conversations to make with one another and appropriate but dramatically tidy reactions in the court scenes. It is a marvel how such numbers were quickly manoeuvred on a small stage; the exit with drawn swords " to Orleans ! ", using the floor area in the open-stage tradition, was most effective. Some difficulty, however, was found in the adaptation to an open stage of a play designed for proscenium production. The smooth flow from scene to scene, which one expects in these conditions, was not always apparent, and one could not always see the reason for pauses. When Shaw himself had to foil criticism that the whole play is too long, this matter becomes doubly important. Three hours is a long time anyway, and long scene breaks are a serious disadvantage.

Having said this, however, on recalling the pleasure St. Joan gave so successfully to so many participants, criticism seems rather redundant. As a whole it was certainly a most ambitious and rewarding production.

DAVID PEARCE.

[KES Mag May 59]