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