June 7, 2017

How would Joan of Arc fit into a post-Brexit society? Josie Rourke’s production of Saint Joan explores that question on Sunday, June 11, 2017, 11:30 am at Palace Cineplex..  Captured live from the Donmar Warehouse and National Theatre (NT) , the  riveting production is an Encore Performance of Saint Joan, an adaptation of Bernard Shaw’s classic play.

Josie Rourke (Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Vote, Coriolanus) directs award-winning actress Gemma Arterton as Joan of Arc in this electrifying masterpiece.

Gemma Arterton  as Saint Joan

Audiences may remember Arterton for her role in films such as Prince of Persia and as a Bond Girl in Quantum of Solace. However, it may be her outspoken nature off-screen, on issues such as body image and pay disparity, that may serve her well in her role as Saint Joan.

Born in Gravesend to a working-class family, Arterton started acting after graduating from Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 2007. It was a tough adjustment to the film industry. As quoted in the Guardian, Arterton explains, “everyone just behaved badly…it was power, power, power.” Film writer, Danny Leigh provides some additional context opining that working-class actors “get funneled into soaps and TV Dramas” and that “it feels somehow more acceptable to treat them as sex objects.”

Gemma Arterton (Joan) in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Saint Joan. Dir Josie Rourke. (Photo Jack Sain)

As Arterton got increasingly disheartened with some aspects of the industry, she became more vocal, started to produce her own films and began to concentrate on work in the theatre.  After receiving strong reviews for her role as Nell Gywnn, Arterton now takes the stage as Saint Joan. In so doing she joins the company of acclaimed actresses such as Sybil Thorndike. Not to be outdone, she has received strong reviews for her portrayal of Joan with The Telegraph describing Aterton’s performance as impressive, poignant and riveting. Andrez Lukowski says of Arterton’s performance, “[she] turns in the best stage performance I’ve seen her give.”

On playing the part, Arterton says she was “taken aback” to be offered the lead role, describing it as a “big reach.” She offered, “I can play strong characters, but there is something about Joan — she’s very innocent and quite naive and I usually play quite knowing people.” (Standard UK) Additionally, Joan’s nationalist leanings troubled her as she commented, “When I first read it, I didn’t know if I could play a woman who was essentially a nationalist; the line “it is not his will that they should come into our country and try to speak our language” is everything I stand against.” (Donmar Warehouse). However, by all accounts Arterton manages to capture the complexities of the character in a modern-day setting.

Arterton knocks it out of the Arc as Saint Joan -Metro

Josie Rourke

Olivier-award winning director, Josie Rourke, sets her production of Saint Joan against the backdrop of a modern-day male dominated boardroom. The production is influenced by the political and socio-economic climate of our time while capturing the themes of feminism and women’s rights evident in Shaw’s original work.

Joan is the only female character and the only character in traditional Medieval dress– a deliberate choice intended to highlight Joan’s isolation in the patriarchal society.

Josie Rourke took over from Michael Grandage in 2012 to become the Donmar Warehouse’s first female artistic director. Prior to Donmar, Rourke was the artistic director at Bush Theatre in West London. Her productions at Bush Theatre include, If There is I Haven’t Found It Yet and Tinderbox. Her repertoire includes Believe What You Will and King John for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Men Should Weep and the upcoming Much Ado about Nothing for the National Theatre. (BBC),

Donmar Warehouse

Located in the heart of London’s West End, the Donmar is an intimate 251-seat theatre in Covet Garden. It is internationally renowned and has won over 100 major awards in its 24-year history. Currently led by Artistic Director Josie Rourke and Executive Producer Kate Pakenham, its mission is to make world-class theatre and to share their work with as many people as possible.

The theatre we make is always in conversation with the world today. Led by our artists, we celebrate the canon, revive modern classics, and commission the best new work.  We always prize diversity, discovery and freedom of expression, and with each new production we seek to inspire, innovate, and spark debate.

The revival of George Bernard Shaw’s 1923 Saint Joan under the direction of Josie Rourke is underscores the Donmar’s ability to put on a modern spin on a classic tale.

The National Theatre’s production of Saint Joan, recorded live and made available to cinemas around the world, can be seen at Palace Cineplex this Sunday. NT Live is the National Theatre’s groundbreaking initiative to broadcast theatre live from the stage to cinemas around the world. Each performance is captured and broadcast live (or ‘as live’, depending on location) via satellite to over 2000 venues in more than 40 countries. The success of NT Live, which shows productions from the Donmar and the West End as well as the NT, has created more interest in going to the theatre.

Tickets are on sale at the box office –Palace Cineplex, and via the web at www.palaceamusement.com, with a Palace Card or any major credit card.

(Sources: National Theatre Live/ Donmar Warehouse/BBC Entertainment News/Going Out Theatre/The Glass Magazine/wwwtimeout.com)