The Northeastern Theatre Ensemble in Scranton, PA, put its faith in the world premiere of Joan, a "wild romp through the history of France, medieval weaponry and the trial of the famous Maid of Orleans," but the flames die down Feb. 13 after a run that began with a Feb. 3 preview.
The new work by Donna Kaz, the company's new artistic director, is a theatricalization of Joan of Arc's world, complete with historical prologue. The play aims itself at a young, teen audience and tells St. Joan's story using words from her letters, chronicles of the time and testimony of her trial.
Official opening was Feb. 4.
Six young performers play a world of European characters. The piece is active, punchy and movement-driven, Kaz told Playbill On-Line. "It's comic," she said, "but it's also moving. We don't change the ending. But it does feel contemporary."
Classical music (Rossini, Barber, Stravinsky) and contemporary songs (the Beatles and more) punctuate the piece to evoke the mood of the teenager whose voices and visions changed the direction of France. Kaz, a New Yorker, is an artistic associate at the York Theatre Company in Manhattan.
The non-Equity Joan company includes James McMenamin, Christy Meyer, Dina M. Piepoli, Darcie Siciliano, Catherine Maddox and Butch Stevenson.
The rest of the season by TNT (the company's recent, new abbreviation) includes the upcoming staging of Donald Margulies' Collected Stories (April 6-16). The season opened with the area premiere of Douglas Carter Beane's As Bees in Honey Drown, directed by Los Angeles director-teacher Laura Henry, Oct. 21-31, 1999.
The troupe's 99-seat flexible space (The Shopland Theatre) is in the Scranton Cultural Center, a former Masonic Temple. The company generally uses special appearance contracts with Actors' Equity Association.
The theatre draws crowds from Wilkes-Barre, the Poconos, Scranton and Northeastern Pennsylvania, thus the "Northeastern" name.
Tickets for Joan range $6-$16. TNT is at 420 N. Washington Ave., in Scranton. For information, call (570) 344-1111.
-- By Kenneth Jones