“This is a play that doesn’t have any dips, energetically speaking,” says lead actor Condola Rashad. “It starts at a ten and then it goes and eventually we have to get to a 20.” The three-time Tony nominee refers to her latest conquest: George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, now playing at on Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club. So intense there is literally a book chronicling the demands of the role via the women who have played her previously, the story is that of Joan of Arc—the young woman who, saying she received visions from an angel, supported Charles VII in his recovery of France from English domain during the Hundred Years’ War.
But don’t let its historical roots fool you. Saint Joan is a story about a woman on a mission. “I’m relating this to the kids from Parkland Florida,” says Tony-winning actor John Glover, who returns to Broadway with the revival. “They’re changing the world right now and this is what Joan is. That’s one of the reasons this play is such a wallop today.”
“Joan is crushed by a system and not by individuals,” says actor Patrick Page,” and that is the most interesting thing, for me, about this moment.”
In light of Joan of Arc, we asked the star and her company about the women in the world and the women in theatre who have most inspired them. How many do you know?
Walter Bobbie, Bishop of Beauvais
A woman in the world who inspires him: I, personally, admire Oprah because she’s staying out of it. I know what her opinion is but she’s not going to have herself abused by the press, disgraced by a political party, and enter into an argument that has no real end to it.
A woman in theatre who inspires him: Lynne Meadow who, a long time ago, was a woman in the arts in New York City and said she was going to build a theatre company and she has, and she’s won the hearts and minds of the New York arts community and built an incredible theatrical legacy. The number of Pulitzer Prize-winning, Tony-winning plays that she’s presented, and artists and actors and people she’s given opportunities. Lynne has a legacy of premiering almost all of the great writers of her generation and allowing those writers to have a home where they can come back.
Jack Davenport, The Earl of Warwick
A woman in the world who inspires him: Angela Merkel. I never thought I’d name a German [laughs].
A woman in theatre who inspires him: I can’t top Lynne Meadow. Fantastic answer.
Daniel Sunjata, Dunois
A woman in the world who inspires him: That would be the woman who adopted me, Katherine [Condon]. She was a powerful women before her time. She adopted a child of mixed ethnicity in the 1970s. She worked for the federal government in the office of civil rights forcing public establishments like public schools to comply to accessibility standards for handicapped people.
A woman in theatre who inspires him: Condola Rashad. This is a three-time Tony nominee, so she’s a beast before she even got this job.
Max Gordon Moore, Gilles de Rais
A woman in the world who inspires him: My wife, Amaya Rivera. She’s amazing. She grabs on to every day like a football player going after a ball. She’s incredibly elegant and caring and an inspiration.
A woman in theatre who inspires him: Right now, it’s Paula Vogel. They say with playwrights: Some of them get more mild as they get older and some of them more militant and Paula is definitely the second type. More righteous. That’s inspiring.
Patrick Page, Robert de Baudricourt
A woman in the world who inspires him: Hillary Clinton. I fought like hell for her. I am very proud of my support for her and for everything she’s done in the world and for the campaign that she ran.
A woman in theatre who inspires him: Zelda Fichandler who founded the Arena Theatre in Washington, D.C., and who I was fortunate enough to work under when she ran the graduate program at NYU Tisch. Frequently you get into a room with someone who has an incredible reputation and they don’t live up to their reputation. Within ten minutes of sitting with Zelda, you knew that this was one of the most remarkable people you would ever encounter. Her intelligence, her humanity—and we really owe the regional theatre movement in this country to Zelda.
Matthew Saldivar, Bertrand de Poulengey and Canon John D’Estivet
A woman in the world who inspires him: My wife, Sarna Lapine. When she was figuring out how she wanted to spend her adult life, she ran to the Pacific Northwest and became a mountaineer and ice climber and then worked with young women who were at risk, and then developed arts programs with them. Then she found her way to theatre.
A woman in theatre who inspires him: Zelda, as well. I went to NYU and she was my teacher. She continues to be, even after her passing, an incredibly inspiring individual.
John Glover, The Archbishop of Rheims
A woman in the world who inspires him: Emma González and Delaney Tarr. The kids from Parkland in Florida, they’re changing the world right now. This is what Joan is.
Adam Chanler-Berat, The Dauphin
A woman in the world who inspires him: My mom, who is the mother of three boys and to raise three boys that, I hope, have empathy and social awareness is a real feat.
A woman in theatre who inspires him: Jane Greenwood, our costume designer. Pam MacKinnon, who’s an amazing female director.
Lou Sumrall, Captain la Hire
A woman in the world who inspires him: Ruth. Bader. Ginsburg.
A woman in theatre who inspires him: K.J. Sanchez, a wonderful actress, writer, director. She’s got projects going on all over the place.
Maurice Jones, Page to Dunois and Canon de Courcelles
A woman in the world who inspires him: Mama Maxine Waters.
A woman in theatre who inspires him: The artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Mandy Greenfield. I had the pleasure of working with her this past summer and I think she is poised to take over the world.
Condola Rashad, Joan of Arc
A woman in the world who inspires him: The strong woman in the world is actually a strong woman in theatre. It’s Viola Davis. I have known Viola since I was about seven. She was doing a play with my mother [Phylicia Rashad] at the Public Theater. I remember backstage Viola. I remember seeing her then and to see where she is now is the biggest beacon of hope for me. I’m glad the world finally caught up.