Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Passion of Joan of Arc - fun facts

You probably know by now that our upcoming production of THE PASSION PROJECT is a dramatic reconstruction of Carl Theodore Dreyer's film THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC. A stunning classic silent film, THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC has a wealth of history surrounding it. While the story of the film is not so fun, I am happy to give you what I consider to be some fun facts about the history and making of THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC:

1. A theatre tie-in

Theatre history students will surely have studied the one and only Antonin Artaud. A French playwright, director, and actor, Artaud initiated the Theatre of Cruelty movement. The movement attempted to created an affective theatre of violent emotional rigor where the actors show the audiences deep and cruel truths about themselves. He was also known for being an exceptional actor on film, and is best known for his portrayal of Marat in Abel Gance's NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. Look for Artaudian influences in Reid Farrington's deconstruction of the film.

2. Censorship!

Lo and behold, a film about Joan of Arc was censored by the Brits! Not because of its religious content, but because it portrayed British soldiers in a negative light: they cruelly mock and torture Joan, mirroring the Roman soldiers who cruelly mocked and tortured Jesus.

3. Destroyed by fire

In a somewhat ironic turn of events, the final cut of the film was destroyed in a fire. Dreyer attempted to reconstruct the film from out-takes and surviving prints. Miraculously, in 1981 an almost-complete print of the film was discovered in a janitor's closet of a Norwegian mental institution.

4. Music

At the time of its release, musical scores were played live in-house, and we have no evidence of Dreyer ever selecting a definitive score for the film. Since then many composers have made their own attempts at scoring the film, most recently Stefan Smulovitz, performing his score live at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival this year! Join us opening night for a talkback discussion with Reid Farrington and Stefan Smulovitz at 7:45pm. (How's that for a promotional tie-in?)

No comments: