Finding Joan, Part Two: A Conversation with Director Tracey Erbacher

This summer, Theatre Prometheus is bringing the fire to the Capital Fringe Festival with The Second Coming of Joan of Arc by Carolyn Gage. As we continue our run, we wanted you to get to know the talented creative minds behind our show. Today we’re talking to Tracey Erbacher, Artistic Director of Theatre Prometheus and the director of Joan.

 

 Director Tracey Erbacher at work.

Director Tracey Erbacher at work.

This is the first Fringe show for Theatre Prometheus! When you were searching for the show you wanted to produce, how did you decide on “Joan”?

We had read and considered a few plays when Joanna (our managing director) handed me "Joan" and said "You're going to like this". She knows me pretty well, because I was instantly in love with Carolyn Gage's Joan. Her ferocity, her strength, her humor, and her ferocious insights all made me really passionate to put this play up. I also happen to be  a queer feminist ex-Catholic, so it's not surprising I connected so immediately to this play.


Joan of Arc is something of a cultural touchstone in our society.  What was your experience with her story before you began this project?

Funnily enough, Joan is the saint I chose for my confirmation saint in eighth grade, when I was made a full adult member of the Catholic Church (god help me). I was looking through lists and lists of women who had meekly died for their faith in various ways, until I found Joan. And here was this amazing woman who lead entire armies and changed her country, not much older than I was then. If I had to get confirmed, I was going to do it with the name of a badass woman warrior.

Taking on a one-person show must be a unique experience for a director. How does your rehearsal process work?

I have to say, I've never done anything like this before, and I absolutely love it. I have a tendency to take on really big projects- lots of people and challenges and things to organize. It's amazing to strip away all of the  stuff that comes along with theater and just narrow it down to me and an actor, telling a story with her words and body and almost nothing else.

Our process was lot of us talking about feelings, honestly. Rehearsals were a core group of women, sitting in my living room and talking, not just about the play, but our experiences as women. They say theater isn't therapy, but in this case I disagree. I think this process was really intense and emotionally healing for the women who worked on it (I know  it was for me), and that not only does that serve a deeper telling of the play, but is very much in the spirit of Joan's own project.


As a member of the LGBTQ community, were you able to bring your own experiences to the rehearsal process? How so?

This is an interesting one. Coming to this show as a bi femme girl was interesting, since that is not at all the point of view Carolyn Gage is writing from or for. The play is explicitly about the butch lesbian experience, and we really wanted to honor that. I will say, I have struggled with feeling not gay/queer enough to direct this piece.

But just as with any play, what it comes down to is telling and honoring the story that the playwright has written. I don't have to be butch to direct the play Carolyn Gage has written-  a stunning, beautiful piece about the butch experience, but also about the larger experience of women living under patriarchy.

Tickets for The Second Coming of Joan of Arc can be purchased here.