Saturday December 16th 2017

“Saint Joan”


“O God that madest this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to receive Thy saints? How long, O Lord, how long?”

This is the question Joan of Arc asks of her 15th century world – a world dominated by men of higher class and status. Hundreds of years later, a young black woman named Joan is asking the same question of our world – a world dominated by women of higher class and status, and they’re still not ready for her voice.

In this all-femme, modern re-imagining of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan we follow the journey of Joan of Arc as she navigates status, title and class, striving to find those who will follow her voice. Set in a major television corporation, Saint Joan asks us to examine questions of representation and women’s role in advocacy, especially women of color.

There is a new theater company in town, Or at least, new to me. They are called the Poetic Forum Collective and at present they are presenting a new look at “Saint Joan” by George Bernard Shaw, and as they say on their Facebook page (they as yet, do not seem to have a website) this version, directed by Marylynne Anderson-Cooper is presented with an all female cast. Unlike the new “Taming of The Shrew” at CST, another all female cast production, in this particular production, they have not changed all the text, which did cause some confusion. There were times they referred to gentlemen, but then called that same character, “Your Ladyship”. It is very important for a new company to get itself off on the right foot, so I suggest being a bit more careful when restructuring a major, well-known  play.
This production, which is on the main stage at The Greenhouse Theater Center, has a set designed by Rachel Rauscher and lighting by Michelle E. Benda, with sound designed by Karli Blalock .The music they play before the show starts and between acts and scenes is, or should I say sounds like, “Rap” or “Hip-Hop”. In fact, it may be a combination of both, but the language in the music is not what I would want my grandchildren to hear, and in today’s audience there was a young girl who seemed to cover her ears.
The balance of the tech crew is Olivia Moeschet (costumes) and Laura Thumel (props) and at last, a male, Zach Barr (stage manager). I am all for women taking on the all the jobs to create and run a theater, but am glad to see a mix where both male and females get to express themselves and their talents to provide quality entertainment for the viewer. The cast is ALL female, many of them local actresses that have graced many a Chicago stage. Others are new to the scene, but all did a solid job of bringing this story to a new light/life, to show that there are still some domination problems in our world today.
A special tip of the hat to Tiffany Renee Johnson , who take son the role of Joan with high energy and shows how the centuries have made little difference to the female population.
Other cast members  who stand out in this production were Mary Mikva, Elizabeth McAnulty Quilter, Grace Schwartzenberger,  Ann-Claude Rakotoniaina (as the royal Dauphin) Christabel Donkor (as  Robert de Baudricourt) and Marie Tredway, Sophie Neff, Carolyn Nelson, Kathleen Niemann, Cat McGee, Chelsee Carter, Maggie Cain, Sandra Bogan (who brings a bit of humor to a play that needed it), and Renee Lockett.
“Saint Joan” is said to be 115 minutes in running time, but I timed the two act production. Act one was 1 hour and five minutes, then there was a 15 minute intermission, and then Act two which was 50 minutes, so, your time in the theater would total to  130 minutes. Just like to tell it like it is!
“Saint Joan” will continue thru October 29th with performances:
Thursdays  7:00 p.m.
Fridays  7:00 p.m.
Saturdays  2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays  2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the Greenhouse Box Office, by calling 773-404-7336 or online at boxoffice@greenhousetheater.org
The theater is located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue and there is street parking (some metered, some zoned) as well as some spaces yet, just up the street at the “old” Children’s Hospital Parking Garage
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Saint Joan”.
$15 for theater is a worthwhile investment. Live theater for the price of a movie, plus a story that is worth exploring.
The Poetic Forum Collective was created four years ago after months of collaborating with local artists in order to find ways to use theater to create conversations on the challenging social issues that reach us every day of our lives. These are: sexism, genderism, racism, oppression, classism, oppression, and I am sure even more exist. These items all inflect pain and many are worth pursuing solutions for, but in a way that makes it easier to get into. Theater can do this, and this group has started the educational process- congratulations, and I hope that you will support this brave and daring effort.

 

Leave a Comment

ITEX.com

More from category

“They” reviewed by Jacob Davis
“They” reviewed by Jacob Davis

 Do you ever think that artists’ sniping at each other isn’t really helping them to become better at resisting [Read More]

“Turandot” review by Jacob Davis
“Turandot” review by Jacob Davis

Highly Recommended **** Fairy tales are, by definition, stories that don’t follow the rules of the real world. That [Read More]

“Red Velvet”
“Red Velvet”

Back in 2016, The Raven Theatre was host to the premiere of Lolita Chakrabarti’s “Red Velvet. This is a [Read More]

“The Christmas Schooner”
“The Christmas Schooner”

One can certainly tell when it is the Holiday period in Chicago. Goodman brings out their “A Christmas [Read More]

“Gobsmacked” reviewed by Carol Moore
“Gobsmacked” reviewed by Carol Moore

Highly Recommended **** “Gobsmacked!” absolutely blew me away!  The show is a fast-moving musical revue, featuring [Read More]