Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s Joan of Arc will use ‘they’them’ pronouns in the new production “I, Joan.” Many have accused the theatre of trying to change history, whilst others are celebrating the creation of a new ‘non-binary’ hero.
The Globe Theatre has been accused of ‘violating history’ with its new production of the life of Joan of Arc; the historical French heroine will be made into a non-binary character. This version of Joan would be “rebelling against the world’s expectations, questioning the gender binary.”
According to a statement released by Shakespeare’s Globe, Joan will use the pronouns ‘they/them’.
“For centuries, Joan has been a cultural icon portrayed in countless plays, books, films etc. History has provided countless and wonderful examples of Joan portrayed as a woman. This production is simply offering the possibility of another point of view. That is the role of theatre: to simply ask the question ‘imagine if?”
The role of Joan will be played by Isobel Thom, who also uses the pronouns ‘they/them’.
In a separate post on the website ‘Who was Joan of Arc?’ the author speaks of Joan using the ‘they/them’ pronouns: “Soldier or martyr, patron saint or witch, hero or heretic – whoever Joan truly was, perhaps the most accurate descriptor for them is simply “icon” (italics added).
Medical News Today defines non-binary as a term that describes someone who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman.
History.com documented that ‘Joan referred to herself only as “Jehanne la Pucelle” (Joan the Maid).” The historical figure was a peasant girl who led the French army into victory over the English at Orleans in 1429. So, if we are to trust the historical facts, we know that Joan was a woman and identified as a woman.
Many have taken to their social media accounts to voice their outrage regarding this new change.
Sophie Walker tweeted: “When I was a little girl, Joan of Arc presented thrilling possibilities about what one young girl could do against massed ranks of men. Rewriting her as not female and presenting it as progress is a massive disappointment.”
Despite the outcries, others have jumped to the defence of the theatre, saying that they have created a hero for many non-binary children and that the theatre is known for bending genders.
I agree that theatres, plays, movies and any other form of arts and entertainment should have the creative license to shape and re-shape any story they are trying to produce. However, when you are trying to re-interpret history as they have done in their statements and articles –that’s where people have an issue.
Joan’s fight was not against “the gender binary of her time” but against the constraints placed on women of her time. The fact that she wore male clothes didn’t mean that she questioned her gender. History should not be changed to appease today’s cultural and political climate.
I, Joan is set to run from 25th of August to 22nd of October.