JOAN OF ARC, holding a Bible, sits centre stage. She assumes a position of meditation and prayer. Silence. Then, slowly: an insidious whisper creeps into the room. At first it is the sound of a malevolent star, invisible; then, indistinct but coming clearer, it is someone speaking her name…

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

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Joan

Voice

 

Joan

Voice

 

 

 

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

 

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

Voice

Joan

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Joan

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Joan

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Joan

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Joan

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Joan

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Joan

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Joan

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Joan

Joan… Joan… JOAN?

 

Mon dieu… (Louder) Un minute! C’est tout! One moment alone!

 

(With humor) Joan. You are never alone in the house of God.

 

I’m never alone in all of France…

 

And who’s fault is that?

 

All I ask for is one minute alone. Just one. I beg you.

 

Begging? That’s very unbecoming of a lady, I must say… especially one of your caliber.

 

Well good thing it doesn’t matter what you think, does it.

 

I would say what I have to say would be of pretty massive consequence… but that might just be me having an inflated sense of myself…

 

Please. Just one minute of peace.

 

Why aren’t you praying then? Sanctuary is only granted to those who ask.

 

I just want a moment’s silence. In case you hadn’t gleaned, an army is a particularly loud instrument.

 

As is the one you hold in your hands. Thusly I ask you, why do you hold that Bible? You’ve carried it from Domremy, a hundred miles on foot and horse to this chapel. Why?

 

It helps me understand.

 

How? You can’t even read.

 

Joan opens the bible. It is filled with light and sound. As she speaks, it washes over her, soothing her, driving the Voice into silence.

 

The pictures bring me solace. The faces of the Saints bring me peace. Their eyes are always uplifted, reaching for one another with their hands.

 

The Voice is silent. The soothing sounds fade away. Joan goes to resume meditation. Silence.

 

(Facetiously) Must be nice to relax at last…

 

It isn’t over yet. You know that.

 

The battle is won. Your enemies lie bleeding in their own excrement, the sons of England lost on the fields of foreign soil. All for a truce. Pretty good all round, I’d say. Well done.

 

Only an idiot would see victory in a battle’s aftermath.

 

Why? Don’t you think this truce’ll last?

 

The British still want what we won’t let them have, just as we want what the British have taken. “The cart won’t stop turning, once it’s kicked down the hill.” (Beat) My father said that.

 

(Kindly) You must miss your family.

 

More and more every day.

 

Your father… regrets… what he did.

 

My father threw me from his house, and decried me as a witch. His regrets did not remove the bruises from my back.

 

But you do not hate him, though…

 

Of course not. I don’t hate any of them – not my father, for fearing what he can’t comprehend, nor my mother, for keeping her silence.

 

(Gently) A simpler life, to be sure, but not one without its… virtues?

 

Yes. The wind rustling through the corn stalks…

 

Yes…

 

The feel of kneading dough with my mother by the fire…

 

Yes…

 

Running with my little brother…

 

Yes… And?

 

But what are these, really, but the lie we tell ourselves?

 

It’s not too late.

 

That door is closed, and nothing good will come from opening it.

 

(Dismissively) You’re not needed here anymore though. The battle is won. The day is ended.

 

Just like my sword was not needed on the field of Orleans? Or my voice was not needed in the chamber of my King?

 

(Harder) He has enough voices already – generals and governors, all more qualified than you. What did you think you could offer?

 

What no one else could – reason… hope…the courage to say what they would never dare to say.

 

No glory, then? No riches for Joan? Imagine the fee for that kind of courage…

 

It took all I had. You have no idea what it felt like… to feel their eyes upon me, undressing me, doubting me, willing me to fail. All, to a man, wishing I would just go back to the field.

 

You did ask for the armies of France…

 

I couldn’t very well push the cart up the hill myself. It is heavy.

 

(Earnestly) But listen – you’ve accomplished everything you set out to do. So why not end it?

 

I am ending it. I’m just… not sure how yet.

 

Of course you do. You’re a perceptive girl. You’ve seen that far into the future at least. The fate of a witch is not a pleasant one. (Beat) Do you think you’ll be remembered?

 

I don’t care if I’m remembered. Whether I’m a savior or a heathen doesn’t matter, I can’t control that. I care what I do. I care what I do…

 

(With humor) If it’s a matter of representation, I shouldn’t worry about it if I were you. I’m sure the artists will capture your upturned face, reaching from the flames when history draws your page…

 

Let them capture the bruises on my chest from these infernal wrappings, and the calluses of my fingers from holding aloft my sword. The body’s purpose is often at odds with its presentation.

 

(Sharply) The British will make no qualms of your presentation. They will strip you, and drag you, and bind you to that stake, and in front of a thousand unfeeling eyes, they will lay the torch to the kindling at your feet, and they will watch as the flames erase you from this world. Perhaps the executioner will take pity and snap your neck? The smallest of mercies, lest you take too long to die…

 

(Unmoved) You think that scares me?

 

(Sincerely) It scares me.

 

It does not scare me half as much as the thought of a life lived unexamined. (Beat) Time and again I’ve succeeded where all have said I would fail. The peasant girl, the Maid, who shapes the world with her allegiance with God. Or so is the role I have played. What have I done, then, but clothe myself in garb that best suits my needs?

 

Even if you believe that, you wouldn’t be the first.

 

But I may well be the worst, if I’ve done it for myself.

 

France will thank-you for your service.

 

Once it is done, France can thank herself.

 

Beat.

 

So what are we to do?

 

I’d give up the sight of a hundred days to come for one clear look at tomorrow.

 

Silence. Joan shuts the bible. The light goes out. She is in the dark again.

 

You know this will end badly. And who will you blame then?

 

The same I always have. Myself.

The lights change; liminal space. Joan rises and leaves. The spheres intrude; electrical interference; explosions in the distance. A telephone rings softly.