Target Margin Theater
THE MYSTERY OF THE CHARITY OF JOAN OF ARC
By CHARLES PÉGUY
Translated by JULIAN GREEN
HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Avenue, May 5 – June 5, 2004
Directed by DAVID HERSKOVITS
Sets LENORE DOXSEE
Lighting MARK BARTON
Costumes DAVID ZINN
Dramaturg JULIE BLEHA
Sound TIM SCHELLENBAUM
Production Stage Manager CHRISTINE GOUTMANN
Press Representative SAM RUDY MEDIA RELATIONS
Daphne Gaines – Madame Gervaise
Jerusha Klemperer – Hauviette
Sophia Skiles – Jeannette
Once again, and in keeping with their tradition of presenting experimental interpretations of classical texts, Target Margin Theater, helmed by innovative artistic director David Herskovits, has brought Charles Péguy’s THE MYSTERY OF THE CHARITY OF JOAN OF ARC to the stage. Said to be the very first time this play has been produced on our shores since being published in 1910, this highly philosophical work examines the moral dilemma facing war torn France through the eyes of a young and deeply affected Joan.
Strange that a play written about Joan of Arc could be so very timely, but THE MYSTERY OF THE CHARITY OF JOAN OF ARC is exceedingly so. The setting, time and conflict may be distant, but not the moral quandary. As the torn Jeannette, Sophia Skiles is subtle and effective. She seethes with outrage and pain, and suffers on behalf of everyone. She prays and she ponders, even as she spins yarn. In youthful counterpoint, Jerusha Klemperer’s Hauviette adds much welcomed comic relief to the heavy matters at hand. Representing more of a "normal" young woman, the relatively unfettered Hauviette reminds the audience of just how unique a youth like Jeannette was and is. For, even when confronted by the spiritual Madame Gervaise, played with poise by Daphne Gaines, young Jeannette, her concerns, her religious debates and her moral righteousness make her seem like the oldest soul in the world. Discussing matters of physical versus spiritual death as she does, and encircled both literally and figuratively by roadside graves, it seems, not natural, but not completely surprising that such a childhood could rear the person who would come to be known as Joan of Arc.
As for the rest of THE MYSTERY OF THE CHARITY OF JOAN OF ARC, the production elements are all in accord. Herskovits directs his cast precisely. Lenore Doxsee’s set suggests farmland, and the black lines and distant crosses painted on the otherwise white walls are perfectly basic, suggesting the distant roads that are peppered by makeshift burial grounds for fallen soldiers. Add to the mix David Zinn’s unexpected yet appropriate costuming, and you have yourself a Target Margin production, for those of you who know what I mean.
Though I cannot say why Target Margin chose Charles Péguy’s THE MYSTERY OF THE CHARITY OF JOAN OF ARC to stage, I can say that it seems a good fit. Contemplative, and even odd, this is not a play for everyone. However, if you want to see Joan through different eyes, if you have had too much of torture in Iraq, or if you just want your personal perspective challenged, you just may appreciate the 75 minutes or so that this production lasts for.
- Kessa De Santis -