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David Byrne writes contemporary musical about Joan of Arc

on May 19, 2016, 7:30pm

Former Talking Heads bandleader and man of prodigious talents David Byrne has written a new musical about Joan of Arc. Entitled Saint Joan, the production is set to premiere at New York City’s Public Theater on February 14, 2017, which should make planning for next year’s Valentine’s Day a no-brainer.

Though the Maid of Orléans fought all of her holy wars in the 15th century, Byrne promised a “contemporary” take on the story in an email to fans explaining why he chose to tackle Saint Joan:

“Why has this story endured over centuries and been made into so many plays and movies? Because it’s about someone—a nobody, a teenage girl—who inspired others to act, to overthrow their oppressors and take charge of their lives. She transforms from an innocent, into an androgynous warrior, and finally a martyr. Joan’s story is about the power of the individual to make a difference and (for me) the hubris and sometimes oversteps that often go along with that. In other words—it’s completely relevant.”

Byrne’s new musical will contain “very little spoken text,” encouraging the audience to engage with the “anthemic and ‘spiritual’” music for a new experience of “a story everyone sort of knows, or knows something about anyway.”

In his email, he also hinted that his version of Joan of Arc will be a singer who dies one of the baddest ass deaths imaginable, being “ultimately immolated at the end of her concert” while her backing band looks on in awe. Yeah, okay, go ahead and sign us up.

Saint Joan marks Byrne’s return to the Public Theater after collaborating with Fatboy Slim and director Alex Timbers for Here Lies Love in 2013. Timbers will also be working with Byrne as director for Saint Joan.

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