Friday, December 31, 2010

Yes Patti there is a Joan of Arc Parade!

"And I feel just like a misplaced Joan of Arc..."--from Smith's song KIMBERLY

Yes it's true. I personally invited Patti Smith to be in our parade and ride as Joan of Arc. I offered her a horse and armor...

She was in town in the spring to lecture on her photographs that she was donating to New Orleans Museum of Art. Thanks to my friend Grace, I was able to get a seat in the auditorium to hear her and not have to stand out in the lobby with so many other fans, waiting and hoping for the televisions to work (as satellites of her live lecture inside). Every time she put up a slide with a Joan of Arc photograph (there were several of the statue in Paris that ours in the Quarter is triplet to) someone would turn to look at me and grin, as if to say, "Heeyyyyyy!"

(It's no secret, the links between Patti and Joan...she's been called rock's Joan of Arc, and she references Joan in her KIMBERLY lyrics, among other books, poems, and interviews...just Google "Joan of Arc, Patti Smith" and you'll see Joan shows up constantly, most recently in her memoir JUST KIDS)...

After the lecture, I found Patti standing alone as a scarecrow in the gallery, as if everyone was afraid to talk with this goddess genius in her signature black. Her mangled mane made it nearly impossible to make eye contact and it was like there was an invisible force protecting her as she stood among her photo gifts to our city. I approached her, speaking as fast as I could to say "Joan of Arc" in my introductory sentence so she realized I had a specific purpose in chatting...She was calm, steady-eyed, gentle and gracious, looking down at my Joan of Arc Project "business card" with interest. She said she was heading down to the French Market the next day to photograph the statue and go to Cafe du Monde and said that she'd "give me a call". Naturally, I acted like it was the most normal thing in the world for Patti Smith to say she'd give me a call. "Great!! Sure! I'm in the office all day! Right by the statue!" I smiled idiotically and made my exit as her agent approached, eyeing me warily (No, sir! I'm here to talk business...about martyrdom and Mardi Gras with Ms. Smith! This is serious!). It didn't help matters that ten minutes later I was standing a few feet away from Michael Stipe as he admired some of Patti's photographs. Had I died and gone to My Favorite Rock Star heaven?

Maybe...because the next day I walked in the rain to buy Patti some white lilys, and delivered them to the Soniat House where she was staying (thank you Grace for telling me! although at the time I was like, why would I want to know THAT? what am i, some kind of freak??) with a note inviting her to ride in our 2011 parade. I promised her a costume and a horse and included photos from previous parades, press materials, one of our signature matchbooks, and a fleur de lis Mardi Gras necklace for some bling--which was kind of stupid since we don't give out plastic. But I know Patti has a fondness for cool kitch, so it seemed right as a nod to Mardi Gras overall. I left it all at the front desk, where a sweet but clueless clerk had to check the ledger for her name--making it clear that she had absolutely no idea who Patti Smith was. (No wonder so many famous visitors apparently stay at the Soniat House! You can stay there in peace...the worse that may happen is someone may drop off flowers for you and hope that they get to the right person!)

A week or so later, Susan Gisleson (our banner designer and first person I EVER had a conversation with about the Joan parade..she encouraged me to such a degree I consider her one of the parade Voices!!) told me that her friend had lunch w/ Patti and Patti asked her about our parade. Gulp! Patti Smith spoke the words JOAN OF ARC PARADE aloud in New Orleans???!!! That's something, isn't it?

I haven't heard from her of course...(did I really think she was just going to call me and we'd wander in the rain through the Quarter, talking about Joan of Arc, Robert Mapplethorpe, NYC in the seventies and Detroit in the nineties? Not at all, though I considered that maybe the rain cancelled her Cafe du Monde and photography outing...but really..would rain stop Patti Smith from anything?) but I have this fantasy that when we get to the statue this year after the parade, she'll be standing there in a black raincoat, aside from the crowd, with her camera, acting like she stumbled upon our spectacle.

I'll leave her alone..but sometime in the spring, I will mail her a letter asking her to be our Joan of Arc in 2012, for Joan's 600th birthday. "Dear Misplaced Joan of Arc: Find your place with us, the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc!"

If the world is supposed to end in 2012, I'd gladly go up in flames with Patti Smith in New Orleans. Wouldn't you?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Owning the Fire

The only flames that flicker in our annual January 6th Joan of Arc parade are the processional candles we hand out to spectators with matchbooks for Joan's birthday (this year--599 numbered candles will be given out for spectators to light and walk with alongside the parade). This is our way of giving homage and celebrating her life, rather than emphasizing her death (as is more common with saints, who are celebrated on their feast days, i.e. their death days, NOT their birthdays!).
Yet it's impossible not to associate Joan with her burning at the stake--alas, it's the only thing most people know about her. That's why we are especially glad that her birthday falls on Twelfth Night, when we can acknowledge her achievement of the coronation of King Charles sharing king cake at the Joan of Arc statue we're recognizing what she was "born for", as she put it: to ensure that the Dauphin became King, as her Voices said he would--with her assistance.
But because Joan is so deeply and obviously associated with fire, we have representation of it at the beginning of our parade. Local fire artist Monica Ferroe (pictured here) will be at the Bienville statue before we roll, showing us the power of fire--and the power of a woman who wields it. In this way we are turning the tables on the fire that surrounded and extinguished Joan. While the religious Joan may find it perhaps not as reverent as our processional candles, I think Joan's soul would rejoice to know that the fire is not swallowing the girl--but instead, the other way around.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Joan is Everywhere

It seems not a week goes by that a Joan of Arc reference does not catch my ear or eye, or someone sends me an article or a photograph about something week it was a friend visiting Ireland who snapped a photo of a Joan of Arc piece of stained glass in a church there..a few weeks later, another friend read an article in the New York Times about a piece of graffitti featuring Joan (above image, and full article at 10/27 issue)...last week someone sent me a photo of the golden Joan statue in the Place des Pyramides in Paris (the one ours in the Quarter replicates)...

And this week, I heard the lyrics to a song on the radio that I've heard before, but it struck me anew...the grouping of these three together--Cause she's so high, high above me, she's so lovely...She's so high, like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, or Aphrodite ("She's So High" by Fastball) --because I had just read a review of a new book by Cleopatra, noting especially how she continues to be reinterpreted by everyone who writes about her, especially in terms of how threatening she was to men (with a focus more on her sexual prowess than her political abilities), how she "is" Elizabeth Taylor just as Joan "is" Ingrid Bergman to many...and how admiring contemporary males were of her, most notably Octavian, who was disappointed he could not capture her alive but was nonetheless impressed by his enemy's "lofty spirit". Sound familiar?
Thinking about Joan's relationship to other near-mythical female figures (and truly mythical, like Aphrodite) and her continuing relevance in pop culture is an ongoing fascination for me and it's why we had a Joan of Arc book club the first year and a full day conference about her (The Joan of Arts Fete) the second year. It's why as we approach 2012 and her 600th birthday we'll be planning more and other events about her (look for the Fete in May 2011 between her victory day of May 8 and her feast day of May 31). The possibilities for discussion and conversation and art-making surrounding Joan are inexhaustible...which is lucky for us in The Joan of Arc Project. Never a dull moment, and never a week without a connection made through Joan's legacy and light.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Joan: Calendar Girl!

We are honored, flattered and totally psyched! to have been selected as the January feature for the comprehensive and cool totally homegrown LOUISIANA FESTIVALS AND EVENTS CALENDAR published by Tatooed Lady Publishing of New Orleans.
Do you have YOUR copy yet? It's a great way to stay abreast of all parades, festivals, and events throughout the state: from our comrades the Phunny Phorty Phellows, who walk Uptown on Twelfth Night, to the Hot Air Balloon Championships in Baton Rouge in August...from the Alligator Festival in Luling in September to the Renaissance Fair in Hammond in November...etc!! It's no wonder my friend Rachel is trying to get the state coined "The Festival State".
Four photographs of the Joan of Arc Parade 2010 taken by Kim Welsh were selected by this year's editor Lydia Benson for the January 2011 page. Two of them feature Fred Klotz, aka "The Bastard of Orleans" who with his wife Caye Mitchell, our official and original Joan of Arc, leads our parade each year clad in armor--much of it hand-designed by him!
Our parade would not be what it is without the leadership of Caye and Fred. Thanks to you both for being our steadfast warriors!!
I'm so glad that the Bastard is pictured in this promotion for the krewe not only because he is AWESOME but because it shows that ah-hem! Dudes! We welcome you and encourage you to walk with us!
(I repeat: This is not, never has been, never will be a female only krewe!! Contrary to the assumption that it is so! Joan fought for, with, and among men! And, er, ah-hem! was put to death by them! So we gotta have men in our krewe to represent! Come as knights, monks, peasants, priests, Saints...there are many relevant medieval characters to choose from! Have I made it clear we want you, need you and love you boyz???)
Others pictured in this colorful January calendar spread include the ravishing Blair Davis, our first annual Maid of Honor ("student" Joan of Arc) selected for our 2010 parade. Next to her is her page, Ty, whom she selected to hand our her 16 hand-decorated wooden swords. In the lower right hand corner is parade founder (yours truly) Amy Kirk Duvoisin, sans the heretic hat!
Thanks to Lydia and the Tatooed Lady for giving us this extraordinary exposure and reminding people throughout the first month of the year that we are the first parade of the season!
Go out and get your copy at the 15 current retail locations in the NOLA area carrying them. For the listing of stores and more information visit

Thursday, November 18, 2010


We have received several emails the past two weeks from individuals asking if it's too late to join!

Absolument pas!!!

I neglected to post on the blog and website but had posted on Facebook and in a recent press release that the deadline for both the student MAID OF HONOR contest and the membership deadline have been extended from November 1st to December 1st.

I should have learned from last year...the same people so caught up in both the beginning of the school year AND Halloween are often interested in Joan of Arc so November 1st (All Saints Day--I just can't resist wanting to use that date for something!) has been too soon both years...from now on I'll surrender to a December 1st deadline!

Because we walk on Twelfth Night (January 6th), Joan's birthday AND the first day of the Mardi Gras season, getting people on board earlier than Christmas time is a challenge--especially considering the 2011 Mardi Gras is March 8th!
Thanks to everyone who has already sent in dues and to those asking to join!
For new members and student contestants, please email for an application. There is additional information about the Maid of Honor contest and member levels in this blog and on our website

If you are returning from last year simply mail membership (review new levels) to our p.o. box.


PO BOX 56815


Sunday, November 7, 2010


The Louisiana Folklore Miscellany, the annual publication of the Louisiana Folklore Society, has published an article by Frank de Caro, with photographs by Rosan Jordan, including a full color back cover, on the 2010 St. Joan of Arc Parade and Project (as well as on the activities of another organization which began around the same time as the St. Joan Project, the Red Beans Social Aid and Pleasure Club).

The article is "Emerging New Orleans Mardi Gras Traditions: The St. Joan of Arc Parade and the Red Beans Krewe, 2010" and it appears in volume 20 (2010) of the Louisiana Folklore Miscellany and includes much background information as well as discussion of the parade.

The article will probably be available (without the photos) on-line within a year through the Web site of the Louisiana Folklife Program (, and copies of the publication can be ordered ($15.00 by check or money order made out to Louisiana Folklore Society, shipping and handling included; a limited number are available) from Carolyn Ware, Louisiana Folklore Miscellany, Department of English, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

November 7th: "THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC" at St. Louis Cathedral

I saw this incredible film in San Francisco over a decade ago, accompanied by live choral and orchestral music by composer Richard Einhorn (VOICES OF LIGHT) with Dreyer's film projected on a huge screen behind the musicians. When I started the Joan of Arc Project, I wondered if it would be possible to do something similar here in NOLA with our own Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra..I envisioned the film being shown outdoors on the riverfront on an enormous screen with LPO accompanying it and a choral group (maybe ArtSpot Productions, who produced "Joan of Arc and her Voices" in 2004)...but until that day arrives--with enough funding to pull it off successfully--...we're soooo fortunate that the film and live accompaniment is coming here--NEXT MONTH--to the French Quarter!!! And it's FREE!

Special thanks to Joan of Arts Fete performer and panelist Thais St. Julien of Musica da Camera ( who told us about this amazing performance at St. Louis Cathedral (where stands a Joan of Arc statue!).
For additional information contact 504-525-9585 ext. 35 or 21.
Paul Goussot will perform an improvised organ accompaniment for the landmark silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc on Sunday, November 7, at 6 :00 p.m. with a free viewing.

For his St. Louis Cathedral performance on Sunday, November 7, at 6;00 p.m., Mr. Goussot will present an improvised accompanimnet for the silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. It was produced in France in 1928 by Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer. Based upon transcripts of the trial of Joan of Arc, it depicts her trial, imprisonment, torture, and eventual execution. Starring Renee Jeanne Falconetti, it is hailed as a landmark in the annals of cinematic history. The legacy of Dreyer's film is without equal. It has been ranked 26th by Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances for All Time, the highest for a silent film.

Paul Goussot was named in 2009, upon the establishment of a joint program of the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France in New Orleans and the Paris Conservatory, the Cathedral's first Young Artist in Residence. Born in 1984, he is the Titular Organist of the historic Dom Bedos Organ (built in 1748) of the Abbye of Ste-Croix in Bordeaux. AT the age of 16, he was acepted unanimously into the Paris Conservatory. Over the past few months, he has appeared at the International Organ Festivals in Magadino (Switzerland) and Monaco. Recently he was featured with Olivier Latry in the concluding concert of the series "The Art of Improvisation" at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

He is frequently engaged to improvise accompaniments for silent movies, particularly Carl Dreyer's 1828 La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Update on Costume Workshop

Hello everyone, costume diva Antoinette here filling in for our leader who is very busy with new baby Abigail. If you haven't checked out the adorable pictures on Facebook, stop by and wish them well.

Well, I'm out of the brace and stitches came out yesterday. Thanks for all the well wishes! Not as mobile as I'd like so we've relocated the workshop to my home in Metairie. Good news is there is plenty of free parking, I bake cookies when I'm stuck at home, and I have room to sew. Bad news is I have no one registered to attend yet.

Now I know we are all busy and waiting until the last minute to decide what to do but I do need some feedback. So to make this simple, please call me (504 717 1451) and/or email me ( and confirm if you will be here and to get directions. If I do not have at least 5 people by Friday night I will post here and we will reschedule. Remember, the parade is just around the corner!

Of course you can contact me any time with questions or to set up a one-on-one consult and sewing session! I look forward to seeing what everyone has been creating!

Stay tuned as we have been tossing around ideas for a social in mid November before we all get trapped in holiday hustle!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Some of you have written that you can't find us on Facebook...that's because we are listed under our official LLC "umbrella organization" name, THE JOAN OF ARC PROJECT.

When I founded the group, I always knew we would be more than just a intent was to utilize the parade as the most public and accessible facet of our group and to build other events (community events supporting everything from the New Orleans Saints to protesting the BP oil spill), conferences (Joan of Arts Fete), and other types of gatherings (i.e., our book group) around the theme of Joan of Arc and what she means to our city and to our citizens.

For this reason, we're listed in a variety of ways..."Joan of Arc Parade", "Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc", and our original krewe name "St. Joan of Arc Krewe". Basically if you try to find us through searching for "Joan of Arc" and "New Orleans" we should pop up!

Please become our friend on Facebook, "like" us or "fan" us and follow us! I post regularly on that site and it's probably the best way to stay most updated, although our website has good general information as well.

Thanks for seeking us out!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Thanks to all who signed up ready to get to work making your 2011 parade costume! Unfortunately we have to postpone the workshop due to our fearless costume diva, Antoinette, having knee surgery on Sept 9th! Light a candle to St. Luke (Patron Saint of Surgeons and Surgery) for her.

(Speaking of Saints, the poor thing is doing this on NFL Kick-Off day!!! So she deserves double the prayers! Go Saints, Go Antoinette!! Bless you Boys, Bless you Gyyyrll!)

We will hold the workshop instead during a bit cooler weather and a bit less hectic time, on October 16th. Same time, same place: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. across the street from The Degas House, at the Musicians Union, 2401 Esplanade Avenue. (Thank you David Villarubia for donation of space!)

Cost is $20 for non-krewe members, $10 for krewe members, which includes a light lunch.

Please contact Antoinette to register:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blair Davis, our 2010 Maid of Honor

Seeking a student Joan of Arc
DEADLINE: November 1, 2010 (All Saints Day)

Email with questions and for an application

The Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc proudly announces its second annual student Joan of Arc competition for French-speaking young women in New Orleans. The winner will be chosen to lead the third annual New Orleans St. Joan of Arc parade on January 6, 2011 in the French Quarter. This contest is modeled after the contest held annually in Orléans, France, when they select a local girl to lead their military parade celebrating Joan’s victorious lifting of the siege of Orléans from the British in 1428.

FREE TO ENTER: There is no fee to enter the contest. The Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc will provide the majority of the costume (student may need to provide some clothing like thermal underwear, beneath costume) and horse and parade training/riding lessons for the selected Joan. If applicants do have previous riding experience, please let us know.

Eligibility: This contest is open to young women, 16-19 years old (the ages of Joan’s most notable feats and trial), who have shown unique leadership abilities and are currently or have recently studied French in high school, college, or at home. (The candidate must be able to speak some French in conversation and be able to represent Joan for media opportunities, public presentations, and at the parade). This contest does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, ancestry or creed. The three top candidates will receive a brief phone interview to assess French fluency and confidence so we may choose the best possible candidate.


1. Completed entry form, including evidence of community involvement and proven leadership abilities.

2. In 250 words or less, describe a time that you, like Joan, believed in yourself and became a leader. How did you inspire others to action? What did you accomplish? Explain both your successes and failures in this leadership endeavor.

3. In 100 words or less, explain how Joan’s story has inspired you and why she is an important symbol for New Orleans.

4. Submit one letter of recommendation from someone (any age) who has witnessed your unique leadership abilities.

5. Winner must be available to lead the Krewe of Saint Joan of Arc procession at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 6th 2011 through the French Quarter.

6. Winner must be available (pending school and other obligations) for t.v. and radio appearances.




Send to or by mail to


Winner will be announced on December 6, 2010.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc Medallions

Made by local Mardi Gras aficionado Rafael (who also makes our wooden coins for each parade) exclusively for the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc, these medallions are mini replicas of Joan's coat of arms which also serves as the krewe's official logo.

On the back, Joan's date of birth and death are hand carved with the words "Maid of Orleans Coat of Arms".
We are offering these for a special price NOW if you join the Krewe by September 12th. Otherwise, you may have to wait to be a lucky parade watcher to get one during our January 6th procession!
Contact Amy at for order details.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Krewe Levels: St. Joan Parade 2011

Join the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc! We are now open for membership for men and women and especially encourage families with children to join us for this early evening parade! Artists are particularly welcome as we require participants to carry handmade and/or unique (not your typical Mardi Gras, i.e. no plastic beads!) throws and we always have need for costume, throw, and parade prop assistance within the parade.

History buffs (Renaissance Fair fans), period costume lovers, Joan of Arc fans of all creeds, Francophiles, French-American citizens, teachers, anyone who loves the French Quarter and all it represents, and those looking for a unique way to spend Twelfth Night...join us!

2011 Parade Levels

$75 Army. Individuals. Provide own costume. We provide you with 25 matchbooks and 25 candles to distribute along the route. Discount to Krewe Party/Dinner (Iris Restaurant, Bienville House Hotel) on January 6th and Fete January 2nd (all day Joan of Arc conference at the Bienville House Hotel). You will be invited to various cultural events and workshops throughout the year related to French culture, historical costumery, and Joan stuff in general (book club, films, performances, etc).

$125 Village Couple. Includes two adults age 18 and above. Couples are provided with 50 matches and 50 candles total. Provide your own costumes. Discount to all mentioned above.

$25 Peasant Kids. For all children 17 years and under. Provide own costume. Must be accompanied by adult/guardian at the parade.

$50. Specialty Krewe Swag Bag. Add this to your membership if you want the krewe to provide you with a mix of specialty items, from hand-painted medallions and coins to handmade magnets and other artistic, Joan and/or medieval-related throws. While supplies last.

To join, email Amy at for a membership application. Deadline to join is November 1st, All Saints Day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


The Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc
Presents a public prayer for Joan & the Gulf Coast
Sunday, May 30th, 2010 at Joan's statue
On the 579 year anniversary of Joan’s execution May 30, 1431@ Rouén, France
Prayer composed by Amy A. Kirk Duvoisin

Oh Saint Joan,
On this anniversary of your day of suffering we honor and celebrate your life. We come to you to pay respect and to ask for your intervention as we enter a potentially brutal hurricane season and a perpetually brutal summer.

You who of all people can appreciate heat…You of all people can appreciate our hatred of British Petroleum…you of all people know what it is like to be frustrated by your kings and generals…We come to plead for your assistance and guidance to “put the heat” on the United States Government and British Petroleum—and to shield us from further environmental destruction.

Although you were aided by government and God, you alone fought and suffered and persevered. We understand the battles ahead and the suffering we may endure and ask that you help us to persevere in this—another!—man-made disaster.

We pray that you help BP be brought to justice. You who were unfairly judged and tried—bring these men to trial SOON and swiftly aid in their sentencing. May the Judges of Heaven and Earth hold them responsible for every pelican and oyster lost. You who won your country but lost your life—stand up in Heaven for all life lost due to active greed and inactive response.

Our livelihood and culture is at stake. We beseech you! Rise up from the ashes and stop the flow of oil and tears!

Bring your armor of love and light to the Gulf Coast and let it serve as a barrier to the darkness washing ashore. Call on Saint Catherine, Saint Michael, and Saint Margaret to assist everyone in raising their voices so that the President and BP can hear them.

Lift your sword, Saint Joan, and cut through the lies to lead us to justice and salvation! AMEN!

Monday, May 24, 2010


In honor of Joan's Feast Day we will be hosting a jazz funeral paying our respects, New Orleans style, on Sunday May 30th from 1-2 p.m.

We will hand out prayers to Joan asking for her intervention this hurricane season (which begins June 1st) and and asking for assistance with the oil disaster.

It will be both celebratory and solemn, with a wreath laying and prayers following the secondline.

12:30 p.m. Gather at Joan of Arc statue.

1:00 p.m. Secondline from statue around French Market back to statue.

1:30 p.m. Prayers to St. Joan.

1:45 p.m. Wreath laying, flower and other gift giving to Joan at statue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc Friends: Come out and support one of our krewe members Artemis Preeshl and Dr. John Sebastian, who participated in the Joan of Arts Fete, as they present a medieval play locally before and after presenting it in Canada!

Loyola University presents the Chester Cycle’s Medieval play, The Ascension,
in Toronto and at Loyola University

LOCAL PERFORMANCE: The Ascension will be performed in Dixon Court at Loyola University, 6363 St. Charles Avenue, Dress Rehearsal on May 20th and Performance on May 25th @ 7:00 p.m.

In late May, Loyola University Professors John Sebastian and Artemis Preeshl will travel to Toronto with several Loyola students to participate in an international medieval dramatic festival and academic symposium. In conjunction with the Canadian performance they will present The Ascension in Dixon Court at Loyola University on Tuesday, May 25th at 7 p.m., with an open dress rehearsal offered also in Dixon Court on Thursday, May 20th at 7 p.m. Loyola students will perform The Ascension as part of “Chester 2010: Peril and Danger to Her Majesty” on Monday, May 24th.

“Chester 2010” will stage a Catholic version of the complete Chester Cycle of 23 processional pageant-wagon plays from the city of Chester, England over the three days of Pentecost weekend, May 21-24, 2010, on the campus of the University of Toronto. The new text has been edited by Alexandra Johnston of the Records of Early English Drama project. The production of the pageants will be shared by Poculi Ludisque Societas (a medieval and Renaissance drama group) and acting companies from all over North America. This version of the Chester Cycle enacts the Christian story from Creation to Judgment as it was either witnessed or read in 1572 by Christopher Goodman, a Protestant divine who objected to its Catholic content and who was instrumental in halting future productions of this medieval Pentecost tradition.

For this special production, theatre director Artemis Preeshl incorporated the Ignatian method of prayer, which she learned in the Jesuit Lenten Retreat under the spiritual direction of Dr. Judy Deshotel, for rehearsal of this Catholic play. Rehearsals commenced with viewing, or imagining, the action in the Reading and Gospels of the Day. Then, cast members entered the scene by role playing inspired by words or images. As a result, the postures and gestures created through role playing were integral in the staging of the production.

Motivated by the research question of the conference, Dr. John Sebastian will present a paper addressing the use of blood imagery in the play. According to Dr. Sebastian, “Blood becomes the central image of this play, with the visual spectacle of a gory and bedraggled Jesus ascending to the Father reinforced by repeated verbal and physical gestures to the bloody drops still emanating from fresh wounds. In keeping with the theme of the Toronto symposium, my paper claims that in its iconography and approach to salvation the Chester pageant offered late sixteenth-century audiences what must have seemed to them a strikingly Catholic representation of the Ascension and one that, in its particularly bloody depiction of Jesus, must have reminded them of the many martyrdoms that characterized the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I.”

Director Artemis Preeshl developed an allegorical approach to the medieval play. Set against the backdrop of war between Catholic and Protestant royalty in England, actors take on not only the roles in the production but also important Catholic figures of the 16th Century. For example, the actor playing Peter is costumed as Pope Pius V who excommunicated Queen Elizabeth. “My concept for this production of The Ascension is to examine what offended the Protestant observer. In this case, the allegory expressed in costume design considers the potential politic impact made by the Tailor’s Guild who originally presented this Catholic play.” In support of the Jesuit values of Loyola University, the project goal is the enrichment of scholarship and performance through the Jesuit faith.

The Ascension will be performed at the University of Toronto @ 8:00 a.m. on May 24, and in Dixon Court[1] at Loyola University, 6363 St. Charles Avenue, Dress Rehearsal on May 20th and Performance on May 25th @ 7:00 p.m. In the event of rain, the performance will take place in Lower Depths Theater in the Music and Communications Building at Loyola Univesity.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

May 8th Music Party: Renaissance On!


Every year we find a way to celebrate Joan's most notable day--the day for which she was named THE MAID OF ORLÉANS! Last year we held a media party and announced our new partnerships, fete, and revised parade route...this year we're holding a music and costume making party thanks to the generosity of the Louisiana Renaissance Fest folks who suggested we join in their fun!

and THE RENAISSANCE OF the City of New Orleans!

Event Details:

Name: “Joys of Spring” Music Party & Workshops
Location: Deutsches Haus 200 South Galvez Street New Orleans
Date & Time: Saturday May 8th from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tickets: FOR MUSIC SHOW TICKETS: Reservations not required but encouraged.
COSTUME WORKSHOP RESERVATIONS: Reservations required as space is limited and pre-workshop consultation necessary.


10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (one hour lunch break at noon; food available on-site). Medieval Costume Workshop with Antoinette de Alteriis. Sewing machines, equipment, consultation, patterns, some trim and accessories provided. $20 per person. Bring your own fabric/materials and leave with costume completed. Space limited.

4-6 p.m. The Renaissance Dance Workshop from 4-6 PM will be led by Michael Gartner, artistic director of the international minstrel's troupe Wolgemut. Participants will learn 5-6 Renaissance dances such as brawls. The cost is $5. Reservations not required - just show up and dance!

7-10 p.m. Music with Marc Gunn, Michael Garter, and Wolgemut! $10 cover. Can pay at door; reservations optional.

Food and beverages for sale all day at Deutsches Haus. Great beer and drinks, food and festive atmosphere. Easy parking nearby. Plenty of room for creating, dancing, eating, mingling and minstreling!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Joan of Arc in French Quarter Fest Parade TODAY




Friday, March 26, 2010

Joan of Arc: Clear Minded?

I think part of the reason that women in particular adore Joan of Arc is that she said what she meant and did what she said she was going to do; without being too snarky and stereotypical and retro, it's true that women don't always speak their mind as truthfully as we should or want to. (Okay, maybe I'm just speaking for myself, Miz Avoid Conflict At All Costs!). This week marks the anniversary (March 22, 1429) of Joan's first letter to the English, which she dictated in a voice so strong and clear that it is one of many indications that perhaps Joan's mind was more focussed than some have assumed--and enviable at that!

Hand over to the Maiden,who is sent here by God the King of Heaven, the keys to all the towns which you have taken and violated in France. She has come here in the name of God to support the Royal family. She is quite prepared to make peace, if you are willing to do right, so long as you give up France and make amends for occupying it. And you, archers, soldiers both noble and otherwise,who are around the town of Orléans, in God's name go back to your own lands. And if you will not do so, await word of the Maiden, who will go to see you soon to your very great misfortune. King of England, if you do not do so, I am a commander, and wherever I come across your troops in France, I shall make them go, whether willingly or unwillingly; and if they will not obey, I will have them wiped out. I am sent here by God the King of Heaven - an eye for an eye - to drive you entirely out of France.

No message could be clearer. And while I have thought, and argued, that part of Joan's confidence may have come from the illusion most teenagers have of invincibility and a particular brand of narcissism, I also think that she was just one of those rare humans who lived and died by one singleminded goal. (You could say she died because of her singlemindedness, which alas, is not so enviable...)

When I was 19, the age Joan was killed, I longed for a mission, a purpose, and a goal that "burned" in me as fiercely as Joan's did. I wholeheartedly wished I had one single strong pursuit. Instead, I changed majors several times, I reluctantly lost the virginity I'd held onto for vague lofty reasons, and I lived for the first time outside of my home state. These "decisions" were not necessarily made with any sense of certainty; rather, they were made in a kind of desperate desire to create a sense of self and definition.

Luckily, I was writing a lot and taking that somewhat seriously, and I was reading even more, and taking that very seriously. One of my favorite poems, published in a collection the year after I graduated college, was "What is Possible" by Adrienne Rich:

If the mind were clear
and if the mind were simple you could take this mind
this particular state and say
This is how I would live if I could choose:
this is what is possible…

The poem goes on to explain that the mind is so rarely this clear...if only it were! What could be possible if we could only clear our minds and do what we know we "must" do.

I wish every 19 year old woman had some of Joan's forthrightness and clarity, enough so that she might move forward with her goals without fear. I wish that for men and women, of course, but it's my women friends who from age 19-25 seemed often skiddish, indecisive, self-destructive, and anxious about decisions. We are all more confident and experienced now, but that feeling of "what if" still lingers...which is why reading Joan's kick-butt letter is a fine reminder of What Is Possible.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Alice in Armor...Joan in Wonderland?

It's hard not to think of Joan of Arc when you see a teenage girl in armor swinging a it's no surprise that the second the latest Alice in Wonderland appeared as a shining knight-girl ready to slay the Jabberwocky in Tim Burton's new flick, my husband leaned over to whisper "ALICE OF ARC!" as I nodded vigorously in the dark. I am a sucker for such images so I delighted in it for a moment. Then I just got annoyed.

That's because there's not much in common between the real Joan of Arc and the fictional Alice in Wonderful but that simple, iconic, visual image (and here's where I envied the kids sitting around me..I doubt any of them had read the original story and none of them knew who Joan of Arc was...they were all having a great time and I can't fault them for that. The little boy next to me was so giggly I wondered if he'd drank some suspicious liquid himself, and the girl behind us kept talking "to" Alice telling her what to do...she had way more chutzpah than the actress). There are many obvious name a few: Alice falls into her fate while Joan rides boldly towards it. Alice is constantly diminished (literally and figuratively) by the quirky characters she encounters and doesn't argue as fiercely with them (if at all) Joan surely would. I wished Alice would have put the armor on from the beginning and demanded it as Joan did, rather than feeling she was forced into it...although the sassy dresses she keeps changing into are part of the fun in Burton's eye-candy version.

As a child I found the story of Alice scary and confusing rather than amusingly surreal...nothing was appealing to me about being lost underground with strange creatures who seem to lie and scheme and tease. I guess we have to give Tim Burton credit for giving Alice some victory at the end. Yet while she does seem less lost as she emerges scratched and disheveled from the hole, and seemingly suddenly able to control her own fate, you don't feel she has won a huge battle. She's just, basically, changed her mind, spoken her mind, and possibly, as she admits, lost her mind. None of this is really as empowering as a girl who has a goal and follows it. Alice lives more or less as many of us do...falling into situations and then finding a way out of them. What makes Joan so unique and astoundingly inspiring is that she created her situation.

I kept thinking about what Sister Rita said during her panel on Joan's Canonization...that Joan chose to listen to her Voices. She could have ignored them or fought them but she believed in her voices and in herself as the savior of France. Call it insanity, call it egomania, call it religious fervor or nationalist fanaticism, Sister Rita insisted that Joan was in no way manipulated by the Voices, the Church, or anyone. She mentioned this in terms of Joan's trial, and the inquisitors trying to get Joan to say she was a tool of this institution or army...she wasn't. She listened and she acted and she believed. On her own.

Alice fell down, got up, and wandered...and ended up fighting a battle that she didn't really choose, although the White Queen says it's up to her. Alice knows it's not up to her but it's something she must do. This alone is not a bad message for young women--sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Maybe that's the closest thing resembling a message that Hollywood can pull off and maybe that's why the young women (teens) I spoke with enjoyed the film much more than women my age...we grew up watching Wonder Woman and Charlie's Angels (campy indeed but surely they impressed us with some superhero powers, unmistakeable sex symbols though they were), emulated Madonna, and willingly chose our battles. This generation of girls grew up watching Survivor and Britney Spears, thinking that was empowerment--self-conscious, sarcastic, indulgent "role models" who couldn't fight a Jabberwocky in their dreams, let alone real life. A girl fighting a beast in armor must seem quite brave, comparatively.

The White Queen does tell Alice it's "her choice" to fight the Jabberwocky, and while Alice cries and seems to struggle with it, we don't feel the sympathy we might if we didn't already know from the Oraculum Scroll presented in the beginning that this is what will happen--destiny has already been written.

What makes Joan so amazing is that she created her destiny--and the destiny of a country. We can't expect other teenage women to take on such a task, and truly, we don't really want any martyrs these days. They're not as fun to watch in 3-D glasses.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Find us at Ecole Bilingue's Fete Francaise!

The fine folks at Ecole Bilingue have offered the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc a booth at the Fete Francaise so that we can publicize our student Joan of Arc contest and get the word out about the St. Joan of Arc Parade and Joan of Arts Fete.

The event is best-known for its showcasing of the city's French restaurants and French music. Come out and eat, drink, and be merry with the peeps who invented joi de vivre!

March 20, 2010 10:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
*** Free Admission ***

Fête will be held at Ecole Bilingue's new campus: 821 General Pershing Street (Next to St. Henry's church)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TV for Francophiles!

I went to an event last night announcing of the arrival of TVMonde5, an all-French cable channel, on Cox Cable. It was wonderful to be around local French leaders, citizens, fans and enthusiasts all sharing excitement about something new and positive that reflects our shared love of French heritage and culture (and in my case, French films in particular! When an image of Catherine Deneuve flashed across the screen, I knew I was get to see French films without going to NYC, the Harvard Film Archive, the occasional TMC showing, or renting from the meager options at video stores or the library, is just too cool).

The station will showcase French culture in Louisiana, as well as air French films, documentaries, sitcoms, cooking shows and more--with English subtitles (whew!).

Here's more info:

Of course, I'll be pitching them to feature our 2011 St. Joan of Arc Parade!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hey Medievalists! Come out and hear some live local music!


O GREENEST BRANCH - Music of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

Sunday 7 March 4:00 Ursuline Chapel - 2701 State St. - Uptown New Orleans

Free and open to the public #504-895-1972 for further information.

Vox Feminae and the instrumentalists of Musica da Camera join together in this concert featuring the works of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) and instrumental pieces inspired by her music.

Mystic, poet, composer, naturalist, healer, and theologian, Hildegard founded monasteries, corresponded with popes and princes, and produced writings on natural history, medicine, cosmology, poetry, and theology. Among both men and women of the Middle Ages she stands as an extraordinary figure. Responsible for the largest body of musical writing of any woman of the Medieval period, she is the first composer whose biography is known.

Hildegard intended her music for the Mass and the Divine Office at her monastery. Her texts are filled with metaphors, images of nature and light, and frequent references to the concept of viriditas: greenness, freshness, growth, greening, fruitfulness, vitality. For Hildegard, music was the symphony of angels praising God, the celestial music of the spheres, the weaving of body and soul. Her music transcends time and place, touching both listener and performer on many emotional and spiritual levels.

We look forward to sharing this extraordinary music with you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It is for this that I was born!

On this date February 23rd in 1429 Joan began her mission to save France--and to think it's otherwise only known as "National Tennis Day" or "International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day" (!!!

Read Ben Kennedy's excellent account of it here on his blogspot (which you should also be following if you are reading this blog!):

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Joan, Intercede (Intercept) for Us!

Prayer composed by Andre J. Duvoisin, as a nod to battle prayers of yore...

Read aloud by over 100 people at the Joan of Arc statue at New Place de France today, led by our 2010 St. Joan Parade "Maid of Honor" Blair Davis. We were serenaded to the statue by Treme Brass Band, second-lining with Saints fans, with Joan in front, flanked by two boys dressed as "medieval football players" (aka my stepsons!) will be posted soon..

After the prayer was read, Treme Brass Band played When the Saints Go Marching In, culminating in another WHO DAT battle cry, and several people left offerings at Joan's statue, including flowers, beads, penants, prayers, and candles.


Jeanne d'Arc we come to you as Maid of Heaven and instrument of righteousness.We pray for your grace and blessings on behalf of our city, our team, our players, and ourselves on this eve of battle. We ask for your wisdom--through St. Margaret, St. Catherine, and St. Michael the Archangel--to guide our coaches, that they think clearly, plan tirelessly, and act decisively, and to shield our players from the violent intentions of the enemy. Help them to remember their training and to apply those lessons to the swift defeat of our opponent. We appeal to your sense of divine justice and leadership, as the Maid of Orleans, to grant us this final victory. Saint Joan, Please Bless our Boys! Amen! Who Dat!

Friday, February 5, 2010


French Market staff (thank you Curtis Turner!!!) hung a Saints flag behind and above Joan at New Place de France, even adding a small handheld flag..come down and check it out! Another "only in New Orleans!" moment!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Join us for a St. Joan and the Saints second line!

This Saturday the French Market is having a WHO DAT party all day with two of the city's best brass bands doing their thang from 11:30-3:30: The Storyville Stompers and The Treme Brass Band. In true New Orleans style, they will serenade the entire French Market, all of its six blocks from Cafe du Monde to the Flea Market...starting at Dutch Alley at 11:30 and ending at the Joan of Arc statue at 3:30 p.m.

Right now above the golden Joan statue, at New Place de France in the French Market, where St. Phillip Street meets Decatur, waves a black flag with a gold fleur de lis, placed between the French flag and the state of Louisiana flag...the perfect place to gather to offer up our hopes and prayers to Joan to assist us in victory on Sunday...

Who Dat say they gonna beat Saint Joan?

We take nothing for granted in this town. As much as we feel confident that we're gonna kick some young horsey butt, we're going to do our best to ensure a victory by asking our young warrior Maid to intercede...


Join us at the culmination of the all day moving pep rally in the French Market as we pay homage to Joan, ask her to lead the Saints in "battle", and give offerings of flowers, Saints stuff, and black and gold items. Wear your black and gold, bring your offerings of real or fake flowers, Saints memorabilia, anything black and gold you are willing to leave at the foot of the statue to ask Joan for help...not that Drew needs it, but it doesn't hurt...

"Behind every successful modern-day quarterback is a successful medieval teenage female warrior"--right?

Saturday, February 6th

11:30 Storyville Stompers start in Dutch Alley, where St. Phillip meets the River

11:45 Storyville Stompers begin to stroll the Market, here, there and everywhere

1:00 Get your FREE 22"inch square gold and black WHO DAT handkerchief...and get ready..

1:30 Second Line with Storyville Stompers and Treme Brass Band to the Farmer's Market at Ursulines and N. Peters Streets (approx. one block distance)

1:45-2:00 Storyville Stompers and Treme Brass Band jam at the Farmer's Market

2:00-3:00 Treme Brass Band strolls the French Market

3:15 Treme Brass Band second lines with our local Maid of Honor, Blair Davis, who led our 2010 parade, from the French Market Arch to the Joan of Arc statue (approx. one block distance)

3:30 Arrive at Joan of Arc statue for a short prayer and gift-giving and more music

3:45 Event ends

All are welcome! Wear your black and gold! Bring your swords! Bring your confetti!

Friday, January 29, 2010

All the City's a Stage

The best thing about New Orleans is that something's always going on for free...second lines, festivals, random acts of parading, political drama, etc.

The worst thing about New Orleans is that something's always going on for if you are an artist trying to sell your stuff, your ideas, tickets to your play or dance gotta work that much harder.

Street theater is so ever-present we don't call it street theater. We call it the French Quarter.

Here's my editorial from yesterday's Times-Picayune, wherein I once again blame the wonders of the city for me not writing any new plays (though I am working on one FINALLY about...guess who...I hope to have a draft by next year's Joan of Arts Fete!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why Bienville and Bagpipes?

Mardi Gras is a time when you don't question too much of anything, depending on your state of sobriety, your previous experiences with the season, and, if you so choose, the adoption of an overall "anything goes" are pretty much happy to see a parade go by and you likely aren't too worried about thematics, symbolism,'re just glad there is music, costumes and of course, plenty of throws.
We are a bit different with the St. Joan of Arc Parade in that we take the meaning of costume, music, and throws to heart. Our costumes reflect the times in which Joan lived, our music does the same and/or is representative of various aspects of Joan's life and story, and our throws are typically handmade and if not then they are tied in some way to religious, historical, or cultural aspects of Jeanne d'Arc.
But why Bienville--since he's circa 1700s--and why bagpipes--since they are Scottish?
Bienville is known as The Father of New Orleans and Joan is known as the Maid of Orleans. The Bienville House Hotel is our sponsor hotel and home of the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc's main events, and we wanted to begin the route near it and at another notable French Quarter statue, the statue of Bienville at Decatur and Conti (a stone's throw from where we began our route last year). It didn't feel like a stretch to make sense of this, and to frame Bienville himself in terms of Joan...after all, there would be no New Orleans without the French, and there would be no France without Joan. This year we chose a local student to be our "Maid of New Orleans" and decided to have The Father of New Orleans send her off into "battle" (i.e. the parade route) with her sword. (This is sooooo not historically accurate, obviously...Joan found her sword in the Church of Saint Catherine of Fierbois...and obviously, Bienville was not born until 200 years after Joan's death!). So in case you were wondering what the guy in the wig was doing...well, he was honoring our French heritage and he was reminding us all that we arguably owe the founding of our city to Joan of Arc. A stretch? Not really...if she had not assisted in lifting the Siege of Orleans...oh, don't make me go there!
As to the bagpipes, this is pretty straightforward. Joan was led into Orleans in 14 by bagpipers and Scottish soldiers...I found this excerpt from a speech by De Gaulle which emphasizes the solidarity between Scots and French--and mentions Joan...
(Excerpt from) Speech delivered by General de Gaulle at Edinburgh, 23rd June 1942

I do not think that a Frenchman could have come to Scotland at any time without being sensible of a special emotion. Scarcely can he set foot in this ancient and glorious land before he finds countless natural affinities between your country and ours dating from the very earliest times. In the same moment, awareness of the thousand links, still living and cherished, of the Franco-Scottish Alliance, the oldest alliance in the world, leaps to his mind.

When I say "Franco-Scottish Alliance," I am thinking, firstly, of course, of that close political and military entente which, in the Middle Ages, was established between our ancient monarchy and yours.

I am thinking of the Scottish blood which flowed in the veins of our kings and of the French blood which flowed in the veins of your kings, of glory shared on past battlefields, from the siege of Orleans, raised by Joan of Arc, to Valmy, where Goethe recognised that a new age was dawning for the world.

In every combat where for five centuries the destiny of France was at stake, there were always men of Scotland to fight side by side with men of France, and what Frenchmen feel is that no people has ever been more generous than yours with its friendship...
We will continue to honor Joan's history in all ways that make sense, taking honorable liberties now and then for the sake of artistry, accessibility, or to bend to the traditions of Mardi Gras parades. You noticed the fire dancers? That's an example of The Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc taking history into our own hands...beginning Joan's story with fire in the hands of women rather than ending her life with fire in the hands of men...a good example of us using elements of Joan's story to make meaning and art, and occasionally...a point!

Monday, January 18, 2010

FRANCE TODAY features Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc

France Today writer, Johanna Safar, contacted me last week after a local French diplomat recommended the Joan of Arc parade as an example of "current French influences on Mardi Gras traditions".

I was mortified, of course, to admit to her that I don't speak French, but she was extremely gracious. Luckily, her English was excellent...and my husband could verbally translate this article for me! (I am now more determined than ever to sign up for an Alliance Francaise class in the New Year!)

We are fortunate that The Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc has been embraced by French citizens, leaders, and writers locally (we are members of the Council of French Societies); nationally (The French Embassy in D.C. has twice featured us in their newsletter "News from France") and internationally (with this feature article). By creating these alliances, we are ensuring that celebrating Joan also means celebrating French culture and New Orleans' French heritage.


Friday, January 15, 2010

A note from Alliance Francaise re: Haiti

Dear Members,

We at the Alliance Française of New Orleans are profoundly touched and saddened by the recent devastation in Haiti. We would like to share with you a compiled list of organizations working on the relief effort, and encourage you to help in any way you can:

These are 3 and 4-star charities responding to the crisis along with a synopsis of their plans. Each of these charities has a history of working on massive disasters and/or of working in Haiti.


Alliance Française(New Orleans’ French cultural and learning center)1519 Jackson AvenueNew Orleans, LA 70130

Tel. 504.568.0770Fax 504.566.1108afno@af-neworleans.org

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Joan geeks unite!

Our first annual Joan of Arts Fete (named so due to a clever slip of the tongue by krewe member Laura Jane Yarborough, creator of the large white heretic hat I wore during the parade) was held January 3, 2010, on the Sunday prior to the parade at the Bienville House Hotel (the Joan of Arc Project's official sponsor hotel) in their cozy Vieux Carre Room (medieval decor c/o Objets Trouves owner Linda Friedlander with decorating help by Store of Two Sisters owners Lee and Rose Ali). While our conversations were going on from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the other side of the hotel in a cozy board room off the lobby, Antoinette de Alteriis was hosting an all-day free drop-in costume workshop for current krewe members and those interested in joining. After many a last-minute, authentically medieval costume was constructed, the room cleared out for a songwriting workshop with Paul Sanchez, who assisted local and visiting minstrels on writing their own folk song about Joan, which they presented that night at the Jeanne d'Arc Cabaret.
This day-long conference was an intense and engaging exploration of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Joan...from the medieval times in which she lived, to her portrayals in various art forms, to why we started the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc, comparisons of how she is perceived in the United States versus France, to how and why she was finally canonized, 500 years after her execution. Attendees came from as far as Mobile, Madison, and Manhattan. Lots of locals enjoyed the opportunity to talk about our unofficial patron saint and share ideas and resources, ask questions, and a few even joined the krewe that day on the spot, inspired by it all.
(See for full fete program descript and more about the krewe)
Thanks to all panelists who generously donated their time and insights about Joan and to all the attendees who came armed and ready with their curiosity and creativity. It was a sincere, intense, fun day and I look forward to planning next year's to include more conversations with youth (the NOCCA students' candidness, idealism, and intellectual comments were inspiring), more members of the French community (thank you Martine Burtaire and Raphael Bas for being our French representatives for the day!), and even more history experts to discuss various aspects of The Hundred Years War, the political and spiritual landscape right after Joan died, more about Charles VII's reign, etc. (Dr. Sebastian and Thais had me thinking of all possibilities!). Sister Rita was so informative about so many aspects of Joan and sainthood, Catholic processes in general, and Church history that we definitely need another discussion just about Catholic history in medieval times, the role of the Church then and now, etc. Everything about the day felt personal, some of it was political, and much of it was totally satisfied the mission of The Joan of Arc Project to honor Joan by educating as many people as possible about her story and its many fascinating facets.
Photo descripts, from top to bottom:
--Jamie Hauser (moderator) and panelists Thais St. Julien, c0-founder and c0-director of Musica Da Camera, and Dr. John T. Sebastian, Director of Medieval Studies at Loyola University discuss MEDIEVAL CULTURE: THE TIMES IN WHICH JOAN LIVED.
--Deborah McDonald, manager of Garden District Book Shop and Joan of Arc Book Club moderator and host interviews Sister Rita Hickey, OSC, of the local Poor Clare Monastery about JOAN'S CANONIZATION.
--Stephen Bertucci (NOCCA student), Thais St. Julien, Sean O'Brien (NOCCA), Celeste Cahn (NOCCA) and local actress and associate theatre director at NOCCA, Janet Shea, converse about JOAN AS MUSE. Janet assigned her students each one play about Joan in preparation for the panel: Saint Joan of the Stockyards by Brecht; King Henry VI by Shakespeare; The Lark by Jean Anouilh. In addition, the students were well-familiar with Shaw's Saint Joan play and performed scenes from that later that evening at the Jeanne d'Arc Cabaret.
--Martine Burtaire, an instructor with Alliance Francaise, kicks off the day with a full house to teach simple French phrases, including quite a few about Jeanne d'Arc in her native tongue.
To get involved next year as a presenter, performer, or panelist, contact Amy at

Friday, January 8, 2010

Show your support: Joan for Mayor!

If you came to the parade, you likely received one of the matchbooks above. We also had t-shirts created with the same design (created by Tom Harvey, local graphic designer and dj) at POP CITY, located across the street from Joan's statue on Decatur Street. Thank you to Rhonda Findley, POP CITY owner, for offering the krewe this opportunity--and for putting us in touch w/ Tom for the stellar design!
One of the Joan shirts is on display in the front window of POP CITY, in bright Saints colors, alongside other black and gold clothing. Come get yours in time for the Play-offs (Jan 16) but before the Mayoral run-offs (March 6) and choose your own color...they are $20 and proceeds benefit the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc.
What a fabulous way to show support for the Saints, Saint Joan, and to suggest that perhaps a 598-year-old female Saint turned statue is as good an option as a living candidate! Hummmmmm!

Thank you Arthur Hardy!

Don Ames from WWL Radio called me on Monday January 4 to talk about the Joan of Arc Parade but when he called I was at a funeral mass for my mother-in-law, Betty LeBlanc Duvoisin, who I am ever-grateful to for giving birth to my husband as her last child! Spending the day with his family and her friends at this very sad but eventually celebratory gathering made me remember what's truly important, and hearing the priest refer to her as Saint Betty gave me pause to think of Joan and how we really are surrounded by Saints!

Because I was in the presence of Saint Betty I couldn't interview about Saint Joan, so Don Ames called Arthur Hardy..and thank God he did. It enabled the Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc to get an unsolicited endorsement from the guru of Mardi Gras, who said, among other nice things, "They truly came out of the gate fast a couple years ago, and it's become a major event already."
Wow! We are major! Geaux Jeanne!
Listen to this wonderful interview where Arthur, beloved Mardi Gras authority and expert, talks about both the Joan parade and Phunny Phorty Phellows as the kick-offs to our favorite season:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Candles instead of swords!

Thanks to Linda Friedlander, owner of Objets Trouves, for purchasing 598 candles for us to hand out for Joan's birthday AND to Janet Gisleson, new krewe member, for hand-numbering them to make them legitimate!

I love this image because it looks like someone saluting Joan (that's Blair Davis as our selected student Joan this year...see Maid of Honor contest info on with a candle rather than a blade!

Joan would appreciate this, as she claimed she carried her banner in place of a weapon. Yes, she DID have a sword (and we gave one to Blair as a gift from the krewe), and a special one at that (, but she claims to not have used it. As she said in her trial:

"I have told you often enough that I did nothing but by God's commandment. I bore this standard when we went forward against the enemy to avoid killing anyone. I have never killed anyone".

We celebrated life last night: the beginning of Joan's life and the beginning of Mardi Gras season, which is how we in New Orleans show the world our joi de vivre. By lighting a candle for Joan, we hoped to shed a little light on all the good things in our wonderful city. Thanks for sharing it with us and spreading the love!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

St. Joan Second Annual Times Picayune shots

Happy Birthday Joan!

This morning a dove sat in the sunlight on the lowest branch of our satsuma tree, facing our kitchen. When I went near the window to make coffee, the bird flew straight towards me, then dipped down and disappeared. I thought it might be headed for the bird feeder which is on the other side of the porch, but it seemed to have another idea. It likely never saw me, but for a second it made me hold my breath because today I associate the sight of a dove with Joan of Arc, who, legend has it, released a white dove from her mouth as she died.

While Joan's trials are recorded, and we have other evidence of her life and story, plenty of beautiful myths abound, such as white butterflies following her banner, and the story of the dove, and other tales about what she may or may not have said, seen, or done. While there's certainly no proof for the white doves flying from her mouth as she was burnt at the stake, I love the poetry that has sprung up around Saint Joan, and our parade honors this as much as we honor the historical records about her and the knowledge of the times in which she lived.
Today we celebrate her birthday, though, rather than the day that she was martyred (May 31). Most Saints are honored on their death day, i.e. "feast day", but we've gone a different route with our parade. We honor St. Joan on her birthday because that's the day we think deserves celebration. We also honor her crowning achievement--the placement of the Dauphin in his rightful place on the French throne as Charles VII, King of France. Because of Joan's success at Orleans, France, she became The Maid of Orleans, regained the hope of the populace and the military, and was instrumental in getting Charles crowned. So tonight we'll crown our first Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc king, again celebrating the positives in her life rather than the sad thing she is remembered for--her horrible death.

Still, terrible as her death was, I can appreciate the poetry that has sprung from it. That's why I'll be wearing a white dove on my shoulder tonight when I walk in the parade. I believe that whether or not a real dove every came anywhere near Joan the moment she died, there's no doubt that something wonderful took flight from earth on that day.

Yet rather than celebrate her ending, tonight, with purpose and a healthy sense of New Orleans partying, we celebrate her beginning as we celebrate the beginning of Mardi Gras. Join us for some poetic processioning and partying. Happy 598th Jeanne!

Monday, January 4, 2010


To all who made the first annual Joan of Arts Fete happen, I bow down to you! I hope this is a sign of more good things to come with all things Joan and New Orleans. The event was more than I expected and all I hoped for (with plenty of lessons learned for next year!) We had an awesome first-year turnout (a packed room for Power French, which began at the crack of dawn in New Orleans' time, 10 a.m.!), excellent panelists who came prepared and energized, and Erin at the Bienville House was her usual organizational goddess self, being calm cool and collected. Add to that completely generous individuals from the krewe, like Roberta who from A to Z organized our silent auction, to Linda who provided the decorations and expertise to transform the Vieux Carre Room into a Medieval-style conference room complete with swords, shield, red drapery, and a 14 foot fairy tree that she and Molly, one of the krewe's guardian angels, made!!

Thanks to Jane for homemade fleur de lis cookies. Thanks to Sister Rita for coming in full habit just for the panel (since she and other Poor Clares no longer wear them) and for our pleasure of being able to visualize, as she put it, what nuns and some women in secular society as well (who knew?) would have been wearing in Joan's time.

Thanks to the open-hearted and well-spoken NOCCA students who gave of their ideas and acting for a panel and the Cabaret.

Thanks to local musician and native Frenchman Raphael Bas for wearing a totally different hat and sitting at the table to talk about perceptions of Joan in France.

Thanks to Kathy Randels for opening up the Cabaret with a mind-blowingly beautiful haunting song from her 2004 piece "The Maid of Orleans". I keep getting images of her rocking back and forth in her all-white outfit singing her heart out in pain and passion. Lovely and eerie stuff.

Thanks to my husband who meticulously made large batches of medieval punch (a version of wassail) and mulled wine and served as our bartender...(though he didn't wear the jester outfit I brought for him!)...yummy stuff that we'll also serve to the krewe before the parade to warm us up!

I am leaving out dozens of others but that's a sliver of my gratitude to everyone who came to share their interest, questions, and knowledge. That's what this is all about--sharing the experience of Joan and the many layers of her story, from medieval history (thank you Dr. John T. Sebastian, head of Medieval Studies at Loyola University) to her continuous pop culture influences, to her religious and artistic inspirations. We all aspire, ultimately, I think, to be more like Joan and that's what draws us together. It's a mad, mad, world, and she may have been a bit mad (speculation abounds) but at least she did good. At least she led a purposeful life. At least she listened to her Voices...which we cannot always access within ourselves...

This krewe and the people who are drawn to it continue to interest and inspire me on deeply personal levels...I am enjoying watching this fleur de lis grow and never tire of tending to it (like the Little Prince and his rose?). It just goes to show you that Joan has a following of all sorts of people...or at least she has enough intrigue of various types of people of both genders and all ages to sustain more and other activities investigating and celebrating her.

Joan said, "I have no fear for lack of men." I always hear this in my head when conceiving Joan of Arc Project events. We're not putting together an army, but we are bringing together a force...and it always draws an eclectic bunch of smart, fun, talented people. It may not be extraordinarily large in quantity, but the genuine quality of interest and reference points and sincerity is what's important. And we have that in spades.

For example, one of my favorite moments yesterday came when a woman who said that Joan can remind us all to listen to the wisdom of teenagers and respect them for being more than just consumers or just annoyances or just almost-adults. She has a 17 year old daughter (who dressed up as Joan of Arc in third grade, when, as she put it "everyone else dressed like Britney Spears") who she said has changed her mind about the power of youth and the possibilities we squander by ignoring them. When she left she said to me, casually, "My grandmother did research and claims we are related to Joan of Arc." She shrugged. "I don't know if that's true, but...she did go to France to do our tree...this was before the Internet..."

The day was filled with moments like that. Quite a few folks stayed for 3-4 panels in a row, clearly engaged by all the angles covered. Several people travelled in from nearby cities in Louisiana and Alabama. Two panelists came in from Texas, one from Manhattan, and a large group from Madison, Wisconsin who's marching in our parade came to the cabaret and filled the air with that kind of excitement and joviality that tourists bring to town.

As far as we know, we're the only group in the country who puts on a festival for Joan of Arc. This confirmation in one of the panels made us all feel a little more NOLA proud, as we always do knowing we're unlike the rest of the States. As one woman who came in from Mobile said, "We don't do it like the rest of the country in New makes sense we'd be the only ones doing this!"

After an exciting day of discussions, dinner, and artistic presentations about Joan at the cabaret, I got up early and spent the first few hours of the morning with our student Joan of Arc, Blair Davis, her mother Jane, and their friend Ty, who will play her page in the parade to assist her with giving out our coveted, glittery gemmed wooden swords as she rides her horse in armor and cape. (We donned our parade costumes for a WWL-TV Morning Show interview, a good albeit nervewracking experience in that I was in full-blown marketing mode and the students I had hoped would shine couldn't get a word in...) This and other media opportunities, combined with the Fete experience, (where, although I got to enjoy plenty of it as an "audience member", I was still in event-planner mode) makes me look forward to the parade, where, once the event is underway, I'll be among the marchers, letting our Joans on horseback lead while I walk behind them, glad to be part of something so much bigger than me...