New Theatrical Drama: The Trial of Joan of Arc by Cynthia Pooler

Joan before her judges
My play, The Trial of Joan of Arc, is a politically charged drama pitting Joan of Arc against Bishop Pierre Cauchon. Bishop Cauchon is a politically motivated priest and an English partisan, who is using the trial against Joan as a stepping stone for personal advancement within the Catholic Church. Contrasting Cauchon is Joan, a peasant whose simple faith in God is both profound and unshakable. She is determined to fulfill the mission she believes God has mandated to her.

In the early stages of my play Cauchon and his hand-picked churchmen question Joan about her youth and her motivation toward her mission. At every opportunity Cauchon tries both to mock and discredit Joan.

Only one priest, Father Lohier, a lawyer visiting Rouen from Normandy, sympathizes with Joan. As the trial progresses, Father Lohier becomes enraged by the travesty against her. Lohier confronts Cauchon and accuses him of being politically motivated by using the Catholic Church to declare Joan a heretic so English power can be restored in France. Cauchon is unrepentant and has Lohier forcibly thrown in a dark dungeon.

The second half of the trial is resumed in Joan's jail cell. What Joan considers a "simple matter" is brought up, her refusal to wear a woman's dress. As the trial progresses, Joan not only refuses to reject her clothing, but after charges are read against her she repeatedly refuses to submit to the Church on Earth, who in her mind represents Cauchon and the trial against her.

After signing an abjuration in which Joan is led to believe that she will be sent to a Church Prison guarded by women, she is sentenced to perpetual bread and water under Cauchon's jurisdiction. Cauchon orders that her head be shaven as penance and given a woman's dress "so that there will be nothing of your past life."

Alone in her cell Joan is continuously threatened and assaulted by English guards. She resumes her male clothing. When Cauchon enters her cell he asks why she rejected the woman's dress he had given her, she states, "The abjuration I signed was against the truth. To save my life, I betrayed God and damned myself. I would rather die than suffer any longer the pain of being in this prison." Joan of Arc was taken to be burned at the stake.

Richard Einhorn, who has written the musical score "Voices of Light" is his tribute to Joan of Arc. Mr. Einhorn has read my play and has given me permission to use his score in my play.

Mr. Einhorn was inspired to write his musical tribute after viewing Carl Dreyer's silent masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Carl Dreyer's movie centers on Joan's trial and execution from a religious perspective. Renee Falconetti as Joan is considered the best filmed performance in the history of film. The Passion of Joan of Arc has recently been re-released with Voices of Light as the musical background.

Since Mr. Einhorn's music is used in a film masterpiece about Joan's trial from a religious standpoint, I think it would be wonderful for Mr. Einhorn's music to be used in a theatrical play dealing with Joan's trial from a political standpoint.

Ever since I was a young girl, she has been my inspiration. In my earlier days I marveled that she was a "woman of action." As I grew into adulthood, Joan has become more significant in my life. Joan of Arc throughout history has been used for many political movements, both left and right. She has been used politically in life and politically in death. I love Joan for what she was, a woman of strength, courage and intelligence. My love for her is as simple as the love she felt for her saints. I want other people to be inspired by her as much as I am. My greatest desire is for my play to come to life.

If you have any questions or comments you can contact the author at her e-mail address. Cynthia Pooler at
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Virginia Frohlick