It is 1427. The Hundred Years war has devastated France, and is seriously divided with a lack of national unity. In 1415 King Henry V of England invaded France and defeated the French army at Agincourt. King Henry achieved dual kingship of both France and England. Charles de Ponthieu was the dauphin of France, the next in line to claim the French throne. It was during this time Jehanne received her vision that she would be divinely used to save France. She travels a dangerous journey of over 300 miles to meet the Dauphin to tell him of her vision.
Scene 1-The Village
Jehanne's village of Domremy, France is full of life. As the villagers set up for the daily market, Jehanne enjoys her days with the village women, the young shepherdesses and the bakers. She was a peasant girl who took care of the animals on the farm and was good at spinning. She is a humble, devout young women that loves God. Jehanne often disappears for long periods of prayer in her father's beautiful garden where she has seen several visions from God.
Scene 2-The Vision
Jehanne, alone in devout prayer is surrounded by floating candles. Suddenly a large bright light blinds Jehanne and she sees a vision where she sees the presence of three saints in the air. She is told "daughter of God, go save France!" Jehanne replied, "I am a poor girl who does not know how to ride or fight." The voices said, "it is God who commands it." Convicted that she must obey, Jehanne cuts her hair and dons mens clothing for protection on the dangerous journey to meet Charles, the dauphin. Surrounded by her protectors, Jehanne is visited by the Old Testament symbols of antiquities, Deborah, Judith and Esther and sees the plague doctor and the danse de macabre, or death skeleton.
Scene 3-the Banquet at Chinon Castle
Charles is unsure whether to receive Jehanne, so he plans a large banquet at his remote castle. When she enters the long 70 foot hall, filled with dozens of courtiers, jesters and musicians, Charles is not on his throne. Instead he mingles with the crowd, knowing that Jehanne does not know what he looks like. Somehow Jehanne walks directly to him. This convinces Charles that Jehanne's visions are authentic. Jehanne says "God sent me to do two things: lift the siege of Orleans and lead the King Charles VII to coronation and anointing to the cathedral of Reims." After much questioning Charles believes her. He makes her armor and gives her horses, a sword and a banner. He bestowed her the rank of captain and gives her troops to lead.
Scene 1-The Siege of Orleans
Jehanne is high above the battlefield at Orleans. A battlefield of chess pieces, playing out the defeat of the French army. A strategist, Jehanne directs her troops to victory. This victory is France's first victorious battle in the latter part of the 100 years war. Jehanne's army also takes control over the city of Reims where the coronations of French kings are held, Charles the dauphin is crowned Charles VII, the king of France. At the coronation Jehanne is given a place of honor next to the king.
Scene 2-The Trial at Rouen
She continues to command the king's army. In May of 1430 Jehanne is captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English and put on trial for heresy. (The Burgundians were the partisans of the Duke of Burgundy, a cousin of the king of France who had pretensions to the throne of France. They had formed an alliance with the English against the partisans of the dauphin at the time of Joan of Arc). The English want to prove she had defeated them with witchcraft. They want her to deny she had heard voices of saints and to remove her soldier clothes. She refuses. After promising she will receive confession and can go to church if she admits guilt, Jehanne finally makes her mark and replaces her soldier clothing for a dress. Jehanne is imprisoned again and is spiritually convicted that she is betraying her faith through her admittance to guilt. In rebellion, she once again dons her soldier clothes. This is reported to the bishop in charge of the trial and she is sentenced to death. She is to be burned at the stake in the market place of Rouen.
Scene 3-A faithful servant
Jehanne faces her destiny with great faith. While many were enticed by the sentence, it is said that an entire society mourned her death. One of her guards made her a small wooden cross to hold at the stake. Jehanne's memory has lived on in history to have an incredible impact. She is referred to as a saint, a heroine of France and a maiden who became a warrior. Some 20 years later after her death, an inquisitorial court was put together, supported by the king of France and the Pope, to revisit the trial and Jehanne was exonerated of the crimes held against her. This is the beginning of the very positive legacy of Joan of Arc.
note from the director:
due to the heavy subject matter, I would like all to know the I have scripted and designed the ballet to include full, light hearted scenes to balance the emotionally intense scenes. Jehanne's death will be an abstract representation, not a literal one, and the final scene will be directed to joy, hope and a celebration of her life, demonstrating that Jehanne's memory is alive today across the globe in both religious and secular sectors.