The Globe Theatre has announced that their new play, I, Joan, will feature the main character as non-binary and sparked controversy.
Since the announcement some people have taken to Twitter as they find it ‘problematic’ that the character of Joan of Arc should be of any gender besides a woman.
Meanwhile, others see no harm in representing historical figures in different ways – especially if marginalised communities can feel represented and special.
Joan of Arc non-binary
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre announced its new play on August 11 with production beings on August 25 and tickets are just £5.
I, Joan, tells the story of the patron saint who is known for fearlessly leading the French in battles against English soldiers in the Hundred Years’ War.
Cast in the role of Joan of Arch is Isobel Thom, who uses the pronouns they/them, and the character also has been described as non-binary. The theatre’s justification for a play which features Joan of Arc as non-binary is to ask the question of ‘what if?‘.
Posing the question of ‘what if?’ allows us to position events from the past into our current context. As noted by one Twitter user, non-binary is a relatively new category however this does not mean that it isn’t relevant to Joan’s story or to non-binary people’s experiences today. So what is the harm in re-telling stories from a different perspective?
Others have also shown their support for the decision, whilst clapping back at those who oppose it.
In opposition to the new play, lies the argument that representing Joan of Arc as a gender that isn’t a woman ‘devalues’ her story.
Some have argued that Joan of Arc represented resistance against the patriarchy and that by not representing her as a woman then that aspect is ‘minimised’.
Another user found that representing Joan of Arc as non-binary disrespected the hero’s struggles and efforts. Many similar tweets can also be found.