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L'Alouette ("the lark") is a French one act play by Jean Anouilh (1910–1987)[1].

The original text

A play about Joan of Arc, it was written in 1952 and first performed at the Théâtre Montparnasse-Gaston Baty, 14 October 1952. It would be grouped as one of his Pièces Costumées, which also included Becket ou l'Honneur de Dieu (1959) and La Foire d'empoigne (1962). Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, was only 19 when she was burned at the stake in the marketplace of Rouen. Born in 1412 at Domremy near Vaucouleurs on the borders of Champaigne of humble parentage, her extraordinary character and conduct make her one of the most striking heroines of history. From her earliest years she was imbued with an ancient faith and a deep religious conviction, and yet she remained a simple peasant girl, According to her own account when she was 13 she began to hear her Voices commanding her to deliver her country from the English invaders and to conduct Charles II to Rheims to be crowned King of France. For at the time, France was a divided land, held north of the Loire by the English and torn by the internal struggle for power by the Armacnac faction and the Burgundians. In 1429 she was entrusted by Charles at Chinon with a military command of 6,000 men. Donning male dress, a suit of white armour and mounted on a black charger she raised the siege of Orleans and led her King in triumph to his crowning. But enemies soon multiplied against her and in 1430 she was captured and imprisoned. Charged with heresy and witchcraft, she was found guilty and at the instigation of the presiding judge, Cauchon, she was burned at the stake on 30th May 1431, her ashes being thrown into the Seine. A Papal investigation annulled her sentence in 1456 and in 1921 she was canonized.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English as The Lark by Christopher Fry (1907–2005)[2] in 1955. Adapted by Lillian Hellman (1905–1984)[3] for the Broadway production in the same year.

Performance history in South Africa

1961: Performed in English as The Lark by the Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival, along with Tea and Sympathy.

October 17, 1974: The Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival presented a Themi Venturas Production of "The Lark" at the Port Elizabeth City Hall in conjunction with The Young 'uns, a group of teenagers working under the wing of the Festival. This was the group's first play. Producer: Themi Venturas, Assistant to Producer: Hercules Pitsiladis, Stage Manager: Craig Timothy. Dramatis Personae: Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick: Peter Israel, Cauchon (Bishop): Ian Liston, Joan (Saint Joan of Arc): Bernadette Johnson, Father William O'Driscoll, Mother Tracy Mann, Brother Edward O'Hara, The Promoter Sean Collins, The Inquisitor: Themistocles Venturas, Brother Ladvenu: Antonio De Gouveia, Robert de Beaudricourt: Hercules Pitsiladis, The Dauphin: Charles Robert Charlton, Agnes Sorel Jill Sneesby, The Young Queen Lorraine Young, Queen Yolande Carol-Anne Kelleher Archbishop Antony Mundell, Page to the Dauphin: Edward O'Hara, Le Tremouille: Michael Barnard, La Hire: Ronald Hughes, Hangman: Hercules Pitsiladis, Voice Michael Nunes, Guard, Boudousse Michael Barnard, Courtiers Nadia Hendricks, William Rijs, Shona Lyall, William Despard, Debbie Pienaar, Soldiers: Bryan Kennedy and Ian Kennedy, Michael Barnard Crowd: Debbie Pienaar, Edward O'Hara, Nadia Hendricks, William Rijs, Shona Lyall, William Despard, Mother & Child; Debbie Pienaar, Rosemary Welsh.

January 29 – February 10, 1990: For their 30th anniversary The Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival and CAPAB in association with the Directorate of Cultural Affairs presented the Young ‘Uns production of Jean Anouilh play, The Lark, translated by Christopher Fry and directed by Linda-Louise Swain at the Mannville Open Air Theatre. Cast Robert Stewart (Beaucharnp, Earl of Warwick), Paul Griffiths (Bishop Cauchon), Liese Bokelmann (Saint Joan of Arc), Forrester Grant (Father), Tracy Simpson (Mother), Robbie Branch (Brother), Timothy Reynolds (The Promoter), Hylton Tutton (The Inquisitor), Timothy Clarke (Brother Ladvenu), Albert le Roux (Robert de Beaudricourt), Paul Lynch (The Dauphin, Charles), Alex Navarro (Agnes Sorel), Melissa Barnard (The Young Queen), Tracy Field (Queen Yolande), Peter Chantson (Archbishop), Nikki Pearse (Page to the Dauphin), Russell Drury (Le Tremouille), Forrester Grant (Hangman), Russell Drury (Guard, Boudousse), Lance Dodd (Soldier), Timothy Clarke, Galia Kerbel, Yael de Jong, Faith Jannaway (Crowd).





The Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival, An appreciation and a tribute. By John Hamber - undated but believed to be 1982.

The Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival Young 'Uns The Lark theatre programme, 1990.


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