St Joan of Now Act III

St. Joan of Now
 Act 3 

The people in this play are not Joan or Giles. They are actors. Railway trains certainly did not exist in the Middle Ages. The characters are aware of  this. They are no more surprised by their history then we are.
Joan’s behaviour was carefully observed. She might, from the beginning, have known her future.
Joan and Giles are not embarrassed by the failure of their lives, perhaps they knew that they had set in motion the expulsion of the British from France. They did not possess the ideas of Britain and France; to some degree, they invented those notions.


The shattered compartment of a railway train going towards the front. Strong light outside. Flashes and commas of shadow from bridges, embankments etc. . Joan, armed and uniformed without rank badges, is accompanied by variously armed and uniformed aids. Gilles wears a pin-stripe suit.

Chorus M+W    Between
                           The train’s quaking floor
                           And the close steel sky
                           She sat
W                       Beset by intimations of discontinuous space,
M                       Unpredictable diffusion,
W                       Less certainty: destiny with error.
M+W                 Many different things happening.
W                       History difficult.
M                       Causality multiple, complex,
M+W                 Coincidence.
W                       In the cruel light of the shaking carriage she sees
                           Irrelevant gestures,
Joan                   Pasts.
                           Straw dogs.
                           Paper money.
                           Little Iphigenia.
                           Low calorie sacrifices.
                           Are they my memories because I deem them so
                          Or am I the product of my reflection?
                          Do they choose me
                          Do I form them?
Gilles                 Is this seat taken, Mademoiselle?
Joan                  Gilles!
Gille                  You know me?
Joa                    Once I thought I knew you well.
Gil                     But who can tell ?
Joan                  You are Gilles de Rais
                          Who brought the Prince to Rouen
                          To be crowned.
Gilles                 Twice through the English lines:
Joan                  Once from the front,
Gilles                 And once from behind!
                          No,  is that was you!
                          Wasn’t it?
Joan                  You let them win.
Gilles                 We missed our chance.
Joan                  Pray silence for the Earl Marshal of France!
Gilles (softly)    I let you burn.
Joan                  But in the end they let you have your turn.
Gilles                 Y0u know the score.
                          They didn’t need us any more.
Joan                  They didn’t have to say
                          That you drank children’s blood.
Gilles                 You never called for me.
Joan                  How could I call
                          You never came.
Gilles                 If I had realised…
                          You’re right, we could have won…
                          I played their game…
Joan                  No matter what you say
                           Things would have come out just the same.
                           Forget it Gilles —
                           It’s history …
Gilles                  Joan don’t travel South.
Joan                   I’m small fry.
Gilles                  The dogs have got their napkins round their necks.
Joan                   They need me there.
Gilles                  Don't go.
Joan                   Why not?
                           To save you the inconvenience
                           Of a guilty conscience
                           When you fail whatever test
                           You’ve set yourself this time?
                           Search your heart,
                           It begs at your own gates,
                           Look into your heart
                           For the greatness that you never ever lost.
                           Giles, you must learn to love the beast you hunt.
                           Death is incommensurate with life; incomplete.
                           One day perhaps you will see that it never was
                           It was not you in the cell.
                           Neither was it you set free.
Gilles                  In the end I pray
                           I will,
                           More or less,
                            See you
                            As you
                            For now
                             You are crystal sugar coated
                             Covered in sparkling light
                             And sweet to taste.
Joan                     Gilles, the world is not a question
Gilles                    Eh ?
Joan                     It is an answer.
Gilles                    The question?
Joan                      There are no questions.
                              Our light casts no more shadow than any other flame
Gilles                     OK
Joan                      OK what?
Gilles                     OK, OK.
                               OK, there is no such thing as a free lunch
                               That you have to pay for?
                               Just OK.
Joan                       I’m going South.
Gilles                      OK.
Newsperson           Joan …
                               Joan …
                               Joan, join the winners.
Women Chorus     Joan, Joan join the parade!
                                Joan, Joan  join with the sinners.
                                Joan Joan your future is made.
                                Don't be absurd
                                Nothing stands in your way but a word;
                                Say YES
                                And be free
                                Just say yes
                                And you’ll be
                                Leading the glorious
                                Ever Victorious
                                Glorious, Glorious
M                            {The triumph.
                               {{The triumph
                               {{{The triumph.
                               Of spectacular economy!
Women Chorus   Immaculate dream,
                             Whiter than snow,
                             The washing machine
                             Ready to go.

                             Soft fingers of dawn
                             Caress the panels
                             With warm hues
                             Of rare enamels.

Men Chorus        The sun at its height
                            Glitters and twitches
                            Rivers of light
                            Amongst the switches.

Women Chorus   The setting sun
                              At home
                              In the dome
                              That holds the foam.

Women Chorus & Joan (turning to face Women Chorus)
                              Perfect the sheen
                             Good is the good
                             Clean is the clean
                             Just as it should.

Joan                     I am not in control,
                             Present irrelevant.
                             There is no little captain
                             Watching through the eye of the Captain of this ship.
                             No captain in charge of the small captain
                             Nor any, increasingly tiny, captains
                             At all.
                             I am in some way different to my kind,
                             Indefinably but obviously objectionable.
                             I Have stumbled through the play
                             Of lines I never understood
                             Dreaded by those I failed.
                             I have no echo in the mirror of life.
                             I am an untrue hypothesis my specie made about its environment.
                             I have form without function.
                             I must acquire some useful skill,
                             Fear, Pain, Death,
                             Perhaps learn to talk Cruel,
                             The international language.
                            Tend the weapon garden.
                             Prune and nourish the tree of swords.
                             Deny suffering
                             And its attendant
                             Surf the pain
                             And enjoy a worry shared
                             As a worry doubled.
Gilles                    I remember this future,
                             A parade of billions of demented city dwellers
                             Into order by rat board
                             Covered  with pictures
                             Of what life is really like.
                             Lead by transparent but sly
                             Killer thieves armed with books
                             Of pages
                             To be torn out
                             In exchange for the better things of life.
Chorus                 Things of life.
Newsperson         Yes but!
Gilles                     But
                               Your empty eyes
                               Advertise that the passive lives of its spectators
                               Are the oxygen of the spectacle.
                               As a reward for a lifetime of uncommunicated panic
                               You have chosen, to become
                               A component of a scoreboard
                               Which only exists to record the mistakes
                               You can’t stop making.
Chorus                   Victory parade.
                               Better than Gin
                               Victory parade
                               You’d better join in
Men Chorus           Your deology’s stinks
Women Chorus     Our deology’s right
Men Chorus           Your deology’s sinks
Women Chorus      Our deology’s light
Men Chorus            Your deology’s sad
Women Chorus        Our deology’s fun
Men Chorus               Your deology’s bad
Chorus (together)       Our deology’s the right one.
Newsperson                 Why be a goose when you …
Women Chorus           Why be a goose when you …
Men Chorus                 Why be a goose when you …
Newsperson                 Could be a proper gander.
Chorus                         Reality.
Joan                             Sorrow is no indication of humanity
                                     Nor the monopoly of any breed or race,
                                     The fear of the sparrow is the fear of the lion
                                     The sorrow of a dog that of its master or ox.
Gilles (to JOAN)          Joan, we started this.
                                      We stripped the world
                                      From the backs of its supporting
                                      Elephants and tortoises,
Joan                              And crawled under it ourselves.
                                     We broke heaven
                                     And fell from the ruins
                                     Into the ruins of our own world.
                                     We made another kind of time —
                                     Modern —
                                     And now we wait
                                     In the Grim Sower’s field,
                                     Close to the spirit of an otherwise soulless thing,
                                     Seeming meets dreaming.
                                     I feel thin,
                                     I feel that
                                     The things around me are trying to tell me
                                     That the world is the answer
                                     To a question
                                     I lack the wit
                                     Or courage
                                     To ask.
                                     Satisfying the demands of the
                                     Brittle silence
                                     Around me
                                     I have became a glass sponge,
                                     My resources more than depleted.
                                     My mouth a transparent toothed flower.
                                     We are no more than the score.
                                     Our only useful skill
                                     Is that we can’t forget
                                     The way to die.
Mike Lesser
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