Our first task was non-naturalistic, choral work using a short piece of text. By use of non-naturalistic drama, we learnt that when Joan heard the voices, she was probably scared and worried that she was going mad, but she may have been happy, as she knew God was talking to her, telling her what to do. We saw two sides of the story, one where she was pleased to hear the voices of saints and one where she was very afraid. The actors who played the saints used hushed voices, which helped me to understand that what Joan heard may have been supernatural, and frightening, making her unsure of her convictions.
We had the saints move closer into Joan’s personal space. This made us understand that Joan may have felt invaded, or encroached, and in turn afraid. The lines that we used, were repeated and said in choral, but sometimes, one actor would just say the lines, but in a loud, firm voice as if to order Joan. This showed us that Joan might have been persuaded by the voices, truly believing that they were giving her God’s message.
Next, we did some scripted work. We had a small extract from the play, “Saint Joan,” by George Bernard Shaw, which was about Joan’s arrival in the town of Orleans and how she met the commander of the army there; Dunois. We were in groups of two. We portrayed Joan as impatient, masculine, and uncaring about what her soldiers were doing; this showed us that she was in “love with war” and was determined to do what ever she could to win the battle and reclaim France from the English. Dunois, we portrayed as a sceptical, uninterested, and disbelieving; he couldn’t understand how Joan was so sure of her plans. Joan had to show how sure she was, as the men didn’t believe that she was able to succeed as a commander of a battalion of men. She had to suffer through prejudice, but she believed that she was supported by God’s angels.
In the next lesson, we got into three large groups and made tableaus of when Joan captured the main fort of Les Tourelles to liberate Orleans. We had someone to narrate each freeze frame, which helped us to see how someone would describe a scene in few words. It also helped us to understand how characters would react to each other, as well as the physicality of each scene. A tableau also helped us to see the relationship between each character from placing them into the scene.
Our next task was to create a tableau of Edith and her mother hearing the new that Brussels being taken by the Germans. We had this as two people leaning over a table as if listening to the radio. Edith appeared angry or disappointed, where as her mother appeared worried or perhaps frightened. This helped us to distinguish between the fighter in Edith and the follower in her mother, and probably the majority of people in Europe at the time. This also helped us to find a relationship between the characters. Also how they would react physically to such news in a frozen moment.
Straight on from this we tried Forum theatre, spontaneous improvisation in pairs, in which the actors can change randomly. After hearing the news of the invasion of Brussels, Edith wants to return there to be with her nurses. Her mother is very against the idea of her daughter going into a war zone and argues that she should stay. With the use of improvisation with different actors, this showed us different portrayals of each character: Edith when she argues, pleads, or begs and her mother being scared, angry, or even guilt tripping Edith into staying.
In the end we know that Edith returns to Brussels, and spends sometime helping soldiers in a red cross centre, until she is visited by a friend. Princess Croy asks Edith to join an underground network to smuggle out allied soldiers from Brussels. At first Edith is unsure as she is a red cross nurse and is not supposed to take sides, this is one of the first times we see Edith as a more fearful character, where as Princess Croy is persuasive and pleading. This helped us to understand how in an extreme situation, personalities can change.
As a class, we tried a thought tunnel. This helped us to see how Edith was seen by the rest of the town, the inner thoughts that characters would not usually say. It also gives their motivations for each opinion. It let us understand how gossip would have put Edith in many different lights, and given some people the wrong impression. We could see how different characters may see Edith’s character, which helped us to build up that in future exercises. As a non-naturalistic is gave a ‘scary’ effect, which also reflected the mood of the time.
After that, we were in groups of six to create another tableau but this time with a thought tap. Many of the characters were confused as of why Edith was to be arrested but Edith was disappointed that she had been captured before she was able to do more for the resistance. This showed us that even when Edith had lost all hope, she still thought of others before herself. However the way she was placed in the scene was often in a solitary position as if she had no one to ‘save’ or support her in her final moments.