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This report is taken from PN Review 42, Volume 11 Number 4, March - April 1985.

The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc
Charles Péguy's The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc comes to the British stage in November. Péguy's massive drama has long fascinated the French director Jean-Paul Lucet, and to stage it has been a continuing ambition. Finally he has managed the remarkable feat of making a sensitive adaptation of the play for a performance of something over an hour which nonetheless represents all the major ideas of the piece and the particular rhetorical character of Péguy's writing. M. Lucet's production was presented by the Comédie-Française at Les Thermes de Cluny last year with great critical and popular success, and has since been touring in France.

It is M. Lucet's adaptation that is being brought to English audiences by Anthony Quinn, Assistant Director in the Royal Shakespeare Company, who saw the Paris production, and now directs it as part of the RSC-W.H.Smith Youth Festival in Stratford. The translation has been specially commissioned from the poet Jeffrey Wainwright whose first piece of work for the theatre this is.

The figure of Joan of Arc obsessed Charles Péguy throughout his career. For him she represented the resources of his own peasant background, militancy, contemplation and hope. His first work about Joan, Jeanne d'Arc (1897), covered in its three acts her entire career, thus emphasising action to rid the world of 'le mal universel'. In this version Joan becomes for Péguy, socialist and dreyfusard, an heroic figure among the dedicatees of his drama: those 'pour l'établissement de la république ...

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