tv Earth Focus LINKTV October 16, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm PDT
the play for this program, saint joan, by george bernard shaw. special guest, julie harris. now your host mr. jose ferrer. saint joan is essentially about sainthood, but there is a certain romantic quality to it as george bernard shaw sweeps his audience along in an almost poetic flight. it is not a biography in the sense that you can turn to the play for an accurate reporting of the facts, rather shaw selected the facts which suited his purpose. he approaches joan, his protagonist, historically,
but develops the character mainly in terms of ideological clashes. primarily, shaw is interested in joan as someone who imposes her ideas on history. she is led by the voices of st. catherine, st. margaret, and st. michael who instructed her to acquire a horse, soldier's clothing with armor, and an army and drive the english out of france. so her actions are based on her faith in her voices. shaw was a co-director for the first london production in 1924 with sybil thorndike in the title role, and he reminded her that joan was a sturdy, independent 19-year-old woman, not a sweet angelic little girl. the story of joan is fascinating. she was a village girl born in the early 1400s, a warrior in her teens and was accused of heresy and witchcraft because she would not deny her visions and voices
and consequently was convicted and burned at the stake. almost 500 years later, joan was canonized by the church. shakespeare, bertolt brecht, maxwell anderson and jean anouilh all have dramatized the joan story, each reflecting a personal point of view and interest. to meet the challenge of that role required a special actress. our guest is that special actress who met the challenge, made theater history with her interpretation of joan in jean anouilh's the lark and remains an outstanding interpreter of the heroic maid of orleans, julie harris. george bernard shaw's saint joan is a glorious play and it's one that i read when i was in high school and dearly wanted to be part of. i never have acted in the play professionally, but my high school-- my senior year in high school,
i was able to play just the trial scene, which was a great thrill for me. then later on, i was given the chance to play anouilh's joan in the lark. the difference between the two plays, i think, is interesting because shaw's joan is a very sturdy, physically very strong girl. the anouilh play, she is more fragile, more vulnerable, more dreamy almost, and there is that--i think, the difference in the plays is that in the trial scene, joan recants and then immediately changes. in the anouilh play, she recants and is thrown into prison and when warwick comes to visit her, that makes her see how she denied her own faith,
and she refuses to do that. anouilh chose the name the lark, which is interesting because the little european lark is not an american bird, it's very different from our lark. it's tiny and rather nondescript looking and it has a beautiful song. it starts to sing as it spirals up into the sky and goes up and up and up and up and you can hear the song and you can't see the bird anymore. well, that's how joan has been through all these centuries: she is still singing her song and people still listen to it. i know that even now there are people who consider her their patron saint. in the shaw play, nobody can get away from the absolutely glorious response, i think.
whenever anybody dramatizes her life, they have to include it in the trial scene, she is asked by the bishop of beauvais if she is in a state of grace and her answer was so miraculous and simple. she said, "if i'm not, may god bring me to it. if i am, may god keep me in it." in the shaw play, there is the delicious scene with the dauphin when joan comes to court to find him to tell him that he must lead france against the english. he disguises himself and hides among the courtiers and joan finds him anyway. this is the scene. gentle little dauphin, i am sent to you to drive the english away from orleans and from france and to crown you king at the cathedral at reims
where all true kings of france are crowned. i shall put courage into thee. it's no use, charlie. thou must face what god puts on thee. if thou fail to make thyself king, thou be a beggar: what else art fit for? thou art not yet king, lad: thou art but dauphin. be not led away by them around thee, dressing don't fill empty noodle. i know the people, the real people that make thy bread for thee and i tell thee, they count no man king of france until the holy oil has been poured on his hair and himself consecrated and crowned in reims' cathedral. and now thou needs new clothes, charlie. there is some good in thee, charlie, but it is not yet a king's good. if the english win, it is they that will make the treaty and then god help poor france.
thou must fight, charlie, whether thou will or no. i will go first to hearten thee, we must take our courage in both hands, aye, and pray for it with both hands too. i tell thee, it is god's business we are here to do, not our own. i have a message to thee from god and thou must listen to it, though thy heart break with the terror of it. i can turn thee into a king in reims' cathedral and that is a miracle that will take some doing, it seems. charlie, i come to thee from the land and i've gotten my strength working on the land, and i tell thee that the land is thine to rule righteously and keep god's peace in and not to pledge at the pawnshop as a drunken woman pledges her children's clothes, and i come from god to tell thee to kneel in the cathedral
and solemnly give thy kingdom to him forever and ever and become the greatest king in the world as his steward and his bailiff, his soldier and his servant. the very clay of france will become holy. her soldiers will be the soldiers of god, the rebel dukes will be rebels against god. the english will fall on their knees and beg thee to let them return to their lawful homes in peace. wilt be a poor little judas and betray me and him that sent me? i shall dare, dare and dare again in god's name. art for or against me?
no wonder that joan has fascinated playwrights and actresses. shaw said of joan, she was very capable, a born boss. in scene one, joan persuades captain robert baudricourt to support her cause and to give her a horse and armor. in scene two, she convinces the dauphin she is sent to drive the english away from orleans and to crown him king in the cathedral at reims. eventually, the knights all pledge themselves to joan's cause. in scene three, joan and the army wait on the south bank of the loire for a west wind. joan prays, the wind changes, and the boats advance the army to the english encampment. scene four takes place in the english camp after joan and her army have won french victory at orleans. the english and the french churchmen plan for joan's fall. this production covers the last two scenes of the play and the epilogue.
we begin with scene five. [singing in latin] you are the pick of the basket here, jack, the only friend i have among all these nobles. i'll wager your mother was from the country. i shall go back to the farm when i have taken paris. i'm not so sure that they will let you take paris. what? i should have taken it myself before this if they had all been sound about it. some of them would rather paris took you, i think. so take care. if the english goddamns and the burgundians do not make an end of me, the french will.
only for my voices, i would lose all heart. i'll tell you something, jack. it is in the bells that i hear my voices. not today when they all rang, that was nothing but jangling. but here in this corner, where the bells come down from the heaven and the echoes linger, or in the fields, where they come from a distance through the quiet of the countryside, my voices are in them. [bell rings the quarter hour] hark. do you hear? "dear-child-of-god" just what you said. at the half hour, they will say "be-brave-go-on." at the three-quarters, they will say "i-am-thy-help." but it is at the hour, when the great bell goes after,
"god-will-save-france." it is then that st. margaret and st. catherine and sometimes even the blessed michael say things that i cannot tell beforehand. then, oh then-- then joan, we shall hear whatever we fancy in the booming of the bell. you make me uneasy when you talk about your voices. i should think you're a bit cracked, if i hadn't noticed that you give me very sensible reasons for what you do, though i hear you telling others that you are merely obeying madame saint catherine. jack, before i go home, let us take paris. oh, no. no. we shall lose everything we've gained. oh, let's not have any more fighting. we can make a very good treaty with the duke of burgundy. - treaty? - well, why not? now that i am crowned and anointed.
oh, that boy... [footsteps] archbishop, the maid wants to start fighting again. have we ceased fighting then? are we at peace? oh, no. no, i suppose not, but let us be thankful for what we've done. let us make a treaty. our luck is too good to last, let us stop now before it turns. luck! god has fought for us and you call it luck. and you would stop while there are still englishmen on this holy earth of dear france. maid, the king addressed himself to me, not you. you forget yourself. you very often forget yourself. then speak you, and tell him that it is not god's will that he should take his hand from the plow. if i am not as glib with the name of god as you are, it is because i interpret his will with the authority of the church, and of my sacred office.
when you first came here you respected it, and would not have dared to speak as you are now speaking. you came clothed with the virtue of humility, and because god blessed your enterprises accordingly, you have stained yourself with the sin of pride. the old greek tragedy is rising among us. it is the chastisement of hubris. yes. i mean she thinks she knows better than everybody else. but i do know better than any of you seem to. and i am not proud. i never speak unless i know i am right. well, just so. how do you know you are right? i always know. my voices-- oh, your voices, your voices. oh, why don't the voices come to me? i am king, not you. they do come to you, but you do not hear them. but what voices do you need to tell you what the blacksmith can tell you: that you must strike while the iron is hot? i tell you we must make a dash at compiegne and relieve it as we relieved orleans. then paris will open its gates. or if not, we will break through them.
what is your crown worth without your capital? that is what i say too. we shall go through them like a red hot shot through a pound of butter. if our cannonballs were all as hot as your head, and we had enough of them, we should conquer the earth, no doubt. pluck and impetuosity are good servants in war, but bad masters. they've delivered us into the hands of the english every time we have trusted to them. we never know when we are beaten. that is our great fault. you never know when you are victorious. that is a worse fault. you would have been besieged at orleans still, you and your councils of war, if i had not made you attack. you should always attack. and if you can only hold on long enough, the enemy will stop first. you don't know how to begin a battle and you don't know how to use your cannons. and i do. [laughter] i know what you think of us, general joan. never mind about that, jack. tell them what you think of me.
i think god was on your side, but i've not forgotten how the wind changed and how our hearts changed when you came. and by my faith i shall never deny that it was in your sign that we conquered. but if we presume further and trust god to do the work we should do ourselves, we shall be defeated and serve us right. shh! i've not finished. do not think any of you that these victories of ours were won without generalship. i know exactly how much god did for us through the maid, and how much he left me to do by my own wits, and i say that your little hour of miracles is over, and that he who plays the war game best will win if the luck is on his side. oh, if, if, if, if! i tell you, bastard, your art of war is no use, because your knights are no good for real fighting. war is only a game to them, like tennis and all their other games.
do you think men that are fighting for france and for god should stop to bargain about ransoms, as half your knights live by doing? no. they will fight to win, and they will give up their lives out of their own hand into the hand of god when they go into battle, as i do. common folk can understand this. they cannot afford armor and cannot pay ransom, but they followed me half naked into the moat and up the ladder and over the wall. with them it is "my life or thine, and god defend the right!" pride will have a fall, joan. oh, never mind whether it is pride or not, is it true? is it commonsense? it's true. half of us are afraid of having our handsome noses broken, and the other half are out for paying off their mortgages. let her have her way, dunois. she does not know everything, but she's got hold of the right end of the stick. fighting is not what it was, and those who know least about it often make the best job of it. i know all that.
i do not fight in the old way. i have learned the lesson of agincourt, of poitiers and crecy. i know how many lives any move of mine will cost, and if the move is worth the cost, i make it and pay the cost. but joan never counts the cost at all. she goes ahead and trusts to god. she thinks she has god in her pocket. up to now she has had the numbers on her side, and she has won. but i know joan, and i see that one day she will go ahead when she has only 10 men to do the work of a hundred. then she will find that god is on the side of the big battalions. she will be taken by the enemy and the lucky man that makes the capture will receive 16,000 pounds from the earl of warwick 16,000 pounds! for me? there cannot be so much money in the world. now tell me which of us will make a move to save her once the english have got her, i speak first for the army. the day that she is dragged from her horse by a goddamn or a burgundian and she is not struck dead,
the day that she is locked in a dungeon and the bars and bolts do not fly open at the touch of st. peter's angel, the day when they find that she is as vulnerable as i am and not a bit more invincible, she will not be worth the life of a single soldier to us, and i will not risk that life, much as i cherish her as a companion-in-arms. i don't blame you, jack. i am not worth one soldier's life if god lets me be beaten, but france may think me worth my ransom after what god has done for her through me. i tell you i have no money, and this coronation, which is all your fault, has cost me the last farthing i can borrow. the church is richer than you. i put my trust in the church. woman, they will drag you through the streets and burn you as a witch. my lord, do not say that. it is impossible. i, a witch! peter cauchon knows his business. the university of paris have burned a woman for saying that what you have done was well done
and according to god. but why? what sense is there in it? what i have done is according to god. they could not burn a woman for speaking the truth. they did. but you know that she was speaking the truth. you would not let them burn me. how could i prevent them? you would speak in the name of the church. you are a great prince of the church. i would go anywhere with your blessing to protect me. i have no blessing for you while you are proud and disobedient. oh, why will you go on saying things like that? i am not proud, and how can you say i am disobedient when i always obey my voices because they come from god. the voice of god on earth is the voice of the church militant. the voices that come to you are echoes of your own willfulness. it is not true. you tell the archbishop in his cathedral he lies and you say you are not proud and disobedient. i never said you lied. it was you that as good as said my voices lied. when have they ever lied? if you will not believe in them, even if they are only echoes of my own commonsense,
are they not always right? and are not your earthly counsels always wrong? it's a waste of time admonishing you. it always comes back to the same thing. she is right and everybody else is wrong. take this as your last warning. if you perish through setting your private judgment above the instructions of your spiritual directors, the church disowns you, and leaves you to whatever fate your presumption may bring you. the bastard has told you that if you persist in setting your military conceit above the counsels of your commanders-- to put it exactly, if you attempt to relieve the garrison at compiegne without the same superiority in numbers you had at orleans... the army will disown you. his majesty, the king, has told you that the throne has not the means of ransoming you. not a penny. you stand alone, absolutely alone, trusting in your own conceit, your own ignorance, your own headstrong presumption and your own impiety in hiding all these sins under the cloak of a trust in god.
when you pass through those doors into the sunlight, the crowd will cheer you, but they cannot save you. we and we alone stand between you and that stake at which our enemies burned that wretched woman in paris. i have better friends and better counsel than yours. i see i am speaking in vain to a hardened heart. you reject our protection and seem determined to turn us all against you. well, in future, fend for yourself. and if you fail, may god have mercy on your soul. that is the truth, joan. heed it. where would you all have been now if i had heeded that sort of truth?
there is no help, no counsel in any of you. yes, i am alone on earth. i have always been alone. but france is alone, and god is alone, and what is my loneliness before the loneliness of my country and my god? i see now that the loneliness of god is his strength. what would he be if he listened to your jealous little counsels? well, my loneliness shall be my strength too. it is better to be alone with god. his friendship will not fail me, nor his counsel, nor his love. in his strength, i will dare and dare and dare until i die. i will go out now to the common people,
and let the love in their eyes comfort me for the hate in yours. you will all be glad to see me burned, but if i go through the fire i will go through it to their hearts forever and ever. and so, god be with me. [commotion] as god is my judge, if she fell in the loire i would jump in in full armor to fish her out. but if she plays the fool at compiegne and gets caught, i must leave to her doom. then you had better chain me up, for i could follow her to hell when the spirit rises in her like that. she disturbs my judgment too. there is a dangerous power in her outbursts. but the pit is open before her and for good or evil, we cannot turn her from it.
if only she'd keep quiet or go home. sit down, joan. you look very pale today. are you not well? thank you kindly, i am well enough, but the bishop sent me some carp, and it made me ill. i am sorry, i told him to see that it was fresh. you meant to be kind to me, i know, but it is a fish that does not agree with me.
the english chaplain here thought you were trying to poison me. my lord, i must protest. he sent a doctor to cure me. the english are determined to see that i am burned as a witch. why must i be left in their hands? i should be in the hands of the church and why must i be chained by the feet to a log of wood? are you afraid i will fly away? woman! it is not for you to question the court, it is for us to question you. when you were left unchained, did you not try to escape by jumping from a tower 60 feet high? if you cannot fly like a witch, how is it you are still alive? i suppose because the tower was not so high then. it has grown a little higher every day since you first began asking me questions about it. why did you jump from the tower? how do you know i jumped? you were found lying in the moat. why did you leave the tower? why would anybody leave a prison if they could get out? you tried to escape? of course i did, not for the first time either. if you leave the door of the cage open,
the bird will fly out. that is a confession of heresy. i call the attention of the court to it. heresy, he calls it. am i a heretic because i tried to escape from prison? assuredly, if you're in the hands of the church and you willfully take yourself out of its hand, you are deserting the church and that is heresy. it is a great nonsense. nobody could be such a fool as to think that. you hear, my lord, how i am reviled in the execution of my duty by this woman? let us not be moved by the rough side of a shepherd lass's tongue. nay, i am no shepherd lass, though i have helped with the sheep like anyone else. i would do a lady's work in the house, spin or weave against any woman in rouen. if you are so clever at woman's work, why do you not stay at home and do it? there are plenty of other women to do it, there is nobody to do my work. come, we are wasting time over trifles. joan, i am going to put a most solemn question to you. now take care how you answer for your life and salvation are at stake on it.
will you, for all that you have said and done, be it good or bad, accept the judgment of god's church on earth? i am a faithful child of the church. i will obey the church-- you will. --provided it does not command anything impossible. she imputes to the church the error and folly of commanding the impossible. you command me to declare that all that i have said and done, and that all the visions and revelations that i have had were not from god, then that is impossible. i will not declare it for anything in the world. and in case the church should bid me do anything contrary to the command that i have from god, i will not consent to it, no matter what it may be. my lord, do you need anything more than this? you do not know what you are saying, child. do you want to kill yourself? listen. do you not believe that you are subject to the church of god
on earth? why, yes. when have i ever denied it? good. that means, does it not, that you are subject to our lord the pope, to the cardinals, the archbishops and the bishops for whom his lordship stands here today? god must be served first. then your voices command you not to submit yourself to the church militant? my voices do not tell me to disobey the church, but god must be served first. and you, and not the church is to be the judge? what other judgment can i judge by, but my own? oh! out of your own mouth you have condemned yourself. we have striven for your salvation to the verge of sinning ourselves. we have opened the door to you again and again, and you have shut it in our faces and in the face of god. dare you pretend, after what you have said that you are in a state of grace? if i am not, may god bring me to it,