G.B. Shaw’s Saint Joan by Fish Hoek Dramatic Society at Masque Theatre

Director Richard Higgs goes out on a limb with an innovative, updated production of G.B. Shaw’s Saint Joan at the Masque Theatre.

The classic play was written in 1923. It chronicles the rise, trial and legacy of a seventeen year-old peasant girl who led the French army to victory against the English in the Hundred Years War during the 15th Century.

In this version the play retains its original script, but is given a contemporary corporate setting:  an inspired teenager, Jehane d’Arc, insists on taking over operations at Head Office to prevent a hostile takeover. Can her turnaround strategy really rescue the financially and morally bankrupt organisation? Despite her success, the young maverick is not popular with many of the old guard executives, and her enemies are determined to see her efforts go up in smoke.

The constant interplay between present and past reminds us that the corporates and media of today are in as much of a crisis as the Church and State were 500 years ago – and in as much need of a Saint Joan.

The Fish Hoek Dramatic Society presents Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Richard Higgs, at the Masque Theatre, Muizenberg. It opens on Friday 14 and runs until Saturday 22nd September, excluding Sunday to Wednesday. Weeknights are at 8pm and Saturdays at 2.30 and 6.30pm

Tickets are R55 for matinees and Thursday evening and R65 for other evenings (Masque Theatre Club Members enjoy a R10 discount). Bookings through Masque Theatre Bookings on 021 788 1898 between 10am and 4 pm during the week and 9.30am and 12 noon on the Saturdays of the run of the show. Email bookings@masquetheatre.co.za

 Reviews of St Joan

SAINT JOAN   by George Bernard Shaw.

Directed by Richard Higgs for Fish Hoek  Dramatic Society.

Lighting Design by Gary Farther.

Masque Theatre Muizenberg until 22 September 2012.

Bookings:  021 788 1898.

 

Lieske Bester reviews.

 

This is a courageous and inventive production and it is obvious that a lot of thought and effort has been put into it by the director and a large cast, many of whom deliver credible performances in more than one role.

 

The parallel of historical political warfare and modern day corporate skirmishes  is an interesting slant as it allows cross gender casting, IT gadgets and contemporary fashion in the costuming (was the somewhat loutish look of the English at the infamous trial intentional?) 

As Joan of Arc’s reasoning for dressing like a soldier is firmly stated in her final testimony, trousers and boots would have been more appropriate for her combat uniform.

 

The director’s choice of music (enhanced by details in the programme) lent an exciting touch to the rather lengthy scene changes.

 

Interpretations were generally perceptive but lacked audibility at times.

Grace Brain’s Maid of Orleans is engaging but too brash; the simplicity, piety and sincerity of this young girl put her well beyond the range of typical adolescence – in 1429 or 2012.

 

Andy Rabagliatti showed clear understanding of both Richard de Beauchamp and the Earl of Warwick and Philippe Pringiers did well as the Archbishop of Rheims.  Worthy contributions came from Cecil Jakins,  Rowan Studti, Luke Brown, Thomas Bowman and Pilar Pringiers.

 

The acting highlight of this production was Felicity Purdon as the ever present Angel and in a vividly contrasting cameo of a sinuous bar girl. 

Her silent and totally interactive presence was a joy to watch.

 

The spectacular flames effect and magnificently lit tableau provide a glorious ending but wouldn’t Charles have aged in the course of 25 years?

 

In spite of imperfections in production – Shaw’s searing text exposes the human and religious hypocrisy in the miscarriage of justice and the Maid’s subsequent canonisation.  Lest we forget.

 

 

SAINT JOAN

deur George Bernard Shaw

Met Grace Brain,  Cecil Jakins, Joshua Knott, Thomas Bowman, Philippe Pringiers, Brad Howie, Pilar Pringiers, Bernie Jacobs en ander

Regie: Richard Higgs

‘n Produksie van Fish Hoek Dramatic Society in die Masque, Hoofweg, Muizenberg.

Deur Danie Botha

Dis ‘n Saterdagmiddagvertoning. Vreemd. Die teater is skaars ‘n kwart vol. Ek kom gewoonlik op ‘n Saterdagmiddag, want dan hoef my gaste-cum-chauffeurs nie so ver in die nag terug na Panorama,  Durbanville of Parklands te ry nie; party van hulle is nagblind. Maar ek kan nie onthou dat ek die Masque al so leeg gesien het nie. O, behalwe daardie keer met die onbeholpe hipnotiseur. Nee, toe het dit leeggelóóp.

Weet die mense dat die vereniging se voorportaalpersoneel in en uit by die teaterdeur stap tydens die opvoering, sit en gesels as hulle weer ingeskuif het, en jou grensloos irriteer? Dat daar harde gestommel agter die gordyne met verhoogveranderings is? Dat die gordyne piep-piep en te vroeg wil-wil toeskuif. Dat van die oorgangsmusiek weer opklink in plaas van die bedoelde kerkklokke.  In ’n kroegtoneel skree die stoele.  Spelers maskeer mekaar telkens. Hulle liggaamstaal sein nonchalantheid oor waar dit nie van pas is nie: die Inkwisiteur stap hande in die sakke tydens die verhoor rond; die aartsbiskop staan met die een skoen ingehaak by die ander asof hy by ‘n partytjie wag dat iemand hom optel. En twee, drie akteurs is nie woordvas nie; die souffleur word nog ‘n speler, ‘n soort werk wat mos deesdae min voorkom?

Ek het vanmiddag nog aan dié klassieke teks gelees. Een wat al vele opvoerings sedert die vorige eeu beleef het. Ook hier in Suid-Afrika. Byvoorbeeld W.E.G. Louw  se Afrikaanse weergawe wat in die jare sestig vir Tine Balder aan ons bekendgestel het as jongvrou Joan. Shaw se spitsvondigheid en sy kontraste tussen die karakters se stande val jou op. Sal die drama werklik nie met ‘n moderne gehoor werk nie? As hulle nie Shaw se weergawe ken nie, weet hulle tog iets van die latere heilige Johanna, soldaat van God (Louw) se geskiedenis.

Nou het die regisseur besluit om hierdie drama vorentoe te bring in die tyd. Weg met aanskoulike historiese kleredrag en toneelinkleding. Dis so half of jy by ‘n repetisie is. Ouens sit in ‘n lewensbelangrike verhoor met gillende rooi T-hemde aan of is dit gholfhempies?

Ek en  intellektuele gas Jana kon nie verstaan waarom die modernisering gedoen is nie. Die Shaw-gegewe, die plekname, titels, intrige word behou. Dis nie dat jy meteens besef  hoe eenders of anders is toestande vandag nie. Woorde en visueelheid is vir jou geskei, veral ook nog as van die karakters van geslag verander, maar hulle ou Shaw-name behou. Die spelers gee ook nie genoeg met beklemtonings of uitlig van betekenis vir jou boeiende interpretasies nie. Kyk hoe staan die mans in die tweede toneel op ‘n rytjie en sê hulle woorde ping-pong op. As karakters oor woorde val in kardinale tonele, kán jy jou mos nie inlewe nie.

Grace Brain kom oor as ‘n bitterlike jong meisie, maar skep sy nie te veel patos nie en gee sy nie genoeg blyke van selfvertroue nie? Sy skep soms ‘n te gemoedelike geaffekteerdheid.

‘n Speler wat myns insiens Shaw se goedkeuring  sou gekry het, is Rowan Studti as ‘n lekker dinamiese “war dog” soos hy sy karakter La Hire beskryf. Jy luister as Studti praat. Anders as met Brad Howie as Jack Dunois wat heeltemal te min stemprojeksie toepas. Sal hom graag in iets huisliks-komies wil sien. Van die ouer manne was darem regtig “oude wywe”, en dan gee die regisseur boonop nog vir hulle talle ongemotiveerde bewegings. Opwip, wegstap, gaan staan, terugkom en gaan sitttttt.

Twee dames het ook goed gevaar, maar ongelukkig in mansrolle. Bernie Jacobs as die Inkwisiteur weet hoe om die teks se betekenis duidelik oor te dra; sy gebruik natuurlike spraakritmes. En dan Pilar Pringiers as broeder Martin. Ek het so intens betrokke geraak by wat sy sê. Jy wil saam met haar gló.

Met die huistoegaan vra ‘n dame in die voorportaal, vermoedelik ‘n bestuurslid, of ek die opvoering geniet het. Ek sê in die verbystap ja. Toe die motorwag daarna gul entoesiasties dit ook vra, het ek dadelik gesê nee. Hy het afgehaal gelyk. Is ek ‘n tweegesig? Dis soos D.J. Opperman ons geleer het: Van ‘n kunswerk kan jy eintlik net sê: Ja-nee.