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THE LARK (article first published : 2004-06-18)

Directed by Antony Lovell, Hilton College’s production of The Lark will comprise pupils from Hilton College and The Wykeham Collegiate.

Few characters in history have inspired as much admiration and romantic fervour as Joan of Arc. A village girl from Lorraine, she was born about 1412, burnt for heresy, witchcraft and sorcery in 1431, declared Blessed in 1908 and canonised in 1920.

In her teens she claimed to hear voices ordering her to rescue France from domination by the English. Her leadership was instrumental in raising the siege of Orleans in 1429 but, while trying to relieve Compiegne, she was captured by her countrymen and sold to the English. This is where Anouilh’s intriguing play, The Lark begins.

Representatives of the French Church receive her from the English and put her on trial for heresy. The Church is anxious to burn her for witchcraft. Before either can happen, the key moments in her life have to be re-enacted and judged. As with Anouilh’s other great play, Antigone, what emerges is the struggle of the individual conscience and spirit against established thought and institutional power.

In the two World Wars, Joan became a heroic symbol to the French Resistance and she has sometimes been celebrated as the first martyr to die for the ideal of nationalism.

This fascinating and absorbing play has a fluid, almost post-modern structure and alternates humour and a sense of mischief with conflict and drama. Ultimately it is uplifting.

The Lark runs in Hilton College Theatre from June 22 to 24 at 19h30. Tickets R20. Bookings on 033 383 0126.




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