Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Updated Press Release


December 30, 2008---One week from today, on Tuesday, January 6, 2009, a.k.a. Twelfth Night and Joan of Arc’s birthday, admirers of the Maid of New Orleans will gather at Woldenberg Park at 5:00 p.m. and at 6:00 p.m. will walk up Conti Street , then down Decatur Street to the St. Joan statue at St. Phillip Street in the New Place de France. The parade will honor of the life and death of Jeanne D’Arc, born January 6, 1412, in Domremy , France , who was burned at the stake at age nineteen, two years after her success at the Battle of Orléans, France.

This first annual parade will feature four Joan of Arc portrayals, in addition to artists, musicians, and revelers of all ages in medieval/Renaissance costumes. The parade will be lit by processional candles and medieval torches, and parade participants will walk to the sound of drums (Bradley Wilkins, dressed as the Dauphin and Raymond "Moose" Jackson), tambourines and bells.
Prior to the parade, four vocalists from ArtSpot productions: Kathy Randels, Lisa Shattuck, Sean LaRocca and Anne-Liese Juge-Fox, will serenade parade walkers with the medieval French song, “St. Marguerite”, a song presented in ArtSpot Productions' 2004 piece "The Maid of Orléans“. They will sing inside the John Scott sculpture, where cellist Helen Gillet will play medieval music before the parade rolls.

The primary Joans will be played by the following New Orleanian girls and women, portraying Joan from when she first received the visit from her Voices to after her life, when she was finally canonised in 1920:

-Corinne Bachaud, a student at Louise S McGehee School, will portray the Domremy peasant Joan at the time she first heard her Voices. She will be joined by several other McGehee girls also dressed as childhood Joans.

-Australia James, a NOCCA theatre student, will portray Joan as prisoner, during her Rouen trial by the English. She will perform a monologue from George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan at the statue at St. Phillip Street , giving voice to Joan just before her execution.

-Caye Mitchell of the New Orleans Posse, a riding club whose members participate in many New Orleans parades, will play Joan as a soldier, riding on a white horse carrying a replica of Joan’s standard (created by local artist Susan Gisleson*) and will be flanked by two knights in armor. One of these knights will be her husband Fred Mitchell, portraying the Bastard of Orléans, one of Joan’s most loyal comrades.

-Kelly Faucheux, one of the owners of Renaissance Publishing—whose company logo happens to be the image of the Joan of Arc statue in the French Quarter—will ride on a horse as the beatified Joan, wearing a halo and covered in gold as a symbol of Joan’s redemption and immortality. Kelley shares a birthday with Joan of Arc, and is particularly excited to celebrate her 40th in this truly New Orleans fashion, surrounded by members of Renaissance Publishing Company dressed as angels.

Parade participants will toast Joan below her statue with Goldschläger, a cinnamon schnapps containing tiny flakes of gold, generously provided by Glazer’s of Louisiana. Participants will also enjoy King cakes donated by Gambino’s Bakery in honor of both Twelfth Night and Joan’s 597th birthday. Bee Sweet Cupcakes will provide cupcakes for the happy occasion, and other revelers will bring sweets and birthday treats to share at the statue, as well as flowers to lay at Joan’s feet.

Celebrators will be greeted by The Prayer Warriors of St. Joan of Arc, an avid prayer group that has honored Joan’s feast day (May 30th) for many years at the statue with prayer, song, and flowers. They will lead everyone in the song, “Maid of France, With Visioned Eyes” as well as “Happy Birthday”.

A highlight of the parade will be the limited edition gift boxed commemorative imported Italian Saint Joan of Arc medallions and necklaces that Rob Clemenz, owner of SaintsforSinners.com, will offer fortunate parade-goers. Additional throws include more reverent and unique items such as Joan of Arc prayer cards, wooden crosses, and flowers, as well as somewhat irreverent items like Atomic Fireball candies.

Additional key participants include: Rev. Fr. James M. West of Saint Joan of Arc Reformed Catholic Church in New Orleans, who will say a prayer before the parade in Joan’s honor; Julie Wallace, a local artist and art teacher who is creating various large-scale art pieces for parade members to carry, including puppets of Joan’s “voices” and butterflies, rumored to have surrounded Joan’s horse when she entered Orléans; Susan Gisleson, arts educator, costume designer and the events coordinator for Press Street-a literary and visual arts collective located in the Bywater, will create Joan’s standard and St. Joan of Arc Krewe parade banner.

Considered the Patron Saint of New Orleans, Joan of Arc represents many things to many people, among them: female warrior, faithful servant of God, follower of her voices (St. Michael, St. Margaret, St. Catherine), and rescuer of France. Although not its original intention, the parade has come to represent to some a call to Joan to help “save New Orleans ”. As one participant said, Since she saved the old, why not the new? She is a courageous figure that inspires hope, faith, awe and conviction in all who learn about her short but remarkable life.
The fact that Joan was born on January 6th, The Feast of the Epiphany, when we celebrate Twelfth Night, gives us yet another reason to create an event celebrating The Maid of Orleans and all things unique to our sacred--and not-so-sacred--city.


Followers and fans of Saint Joan from around the New Orleans area and around the country have come forward to offer their support and talent to this first annual event.

All interested in walking with us may participate as long as they are dressed in some interpretation of medieval/Renaissance garb and are willing to carry an instrument, candle, sign, or art piece. Walkers are encouraged to bring their own unique throws.

In future years we look forward to growing this into a Joan of Arc festival, complete with film, theater, musical performances, costume contests, and Renaissance Fair style events reflecting the times in which Joan lived. We also plan to charge a modest membership to St. Joan of Arc krewe members next year. This year, it’s free and open to all in costume!