Friday, June 16, 2017

Free Speech and Joan of Arc

At a time when free speech seems to be under attack, it's great to know that the Nittany Theatre at the Barn is holding a playwriting contest to pay theatrical tribute to free speech in the United States.

And guess what? My play Dark Night of the Soul is one of seven finalists for the contest! The theatre will announce the winner, appropriately enough, on July 4th of this year. That play will be produced on the theatre's mainstage during Constitution Week in September.

My play Dark Night of the Soul tells the familiar story of Joan of Arc, but in a somewhat unfamiliar way. Joan is shown having a crisis of faith, unsure of what God wants of her and no longer able to hear the Divine Voice that was once so familiar. She is urged to renounce her former statements and submit to the Church, but when she does so, she finds that life is not tolerable without the ability to speak the truth.

In fact, Joan would have been allowed to live if she had only kept her mouth shut and not returned to making statements about her former visions. Her insistence on her right to speak out--no matter what the consequences--makes her a martyr for the universal right of freedom of speech. I'm pleased that Nittany Theatre saw this and honored the play by making it one of the finalists.

Dark Night of the Soul had a staged reading by the Lady Cavaliers Theatre Company in Brooklyn. The play was later adapted for radio, and aired on WMNF in Tampa as a part of Radio Theatre Project Live. However, it has yet to receive a full production.

So, will the play's world premiere happen at a barn theatre in the middle of Pennsylvania? Stay tuned to find out!