Monday, August 30, 2004

George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan, 1923.

"O God that madest this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to receive Thy saints? How long, O Lord, how long?"

My first Shaw, and I got quite the kick out of this fun play. I'm still a little staggered by the depth and breadth of the stage directions; were someone to suggest to me that GBS would be a screenwriter in this day and age, I'd like as not agree, in this sate of mind.

While GBS suggested that Saint Joan was a play that did not treat Joan of Arc hagiographically, and while he's right that her human foibles are only too visible, it's still a play that challenges those encountering it to consider the nature of truth and of revelation. Despite the cynicism that is the Archbishop ("A miracle, my friend, is an event which creates faith. That is the purpose and nature of miracles. They may seem very wonderful to those who perform them. That does not matter: if they confirm or create faith they are true miracles... Frauds deceive. An event which creates faith does not deceive: therefore it is not a fraud, but a miracle"), despite the villainies of Cauchon and Warwick's chaplain, despite the self-interest of Warwick and the Inquisitor, the fervour of Courcelles, there is a sweetness to this play, not just in Joan but in the feeble Dauphin and in Brother Martin Ladvenu. The characters reveal something about the human condition, and the play holds attention with its clever wit.


JOAN: I hear voices telling me what to do. They come from God.
ROBERT: They come from your imagination.
JOAN: Of course. That is how the messages of God come to us.