The Survival of St. Joan quietly defined a genre when it first premiered in Buffalo, NY in 1970, paving the way for concept rock operas such as Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy and Pippin that proliferated in the two decades that followed. The propulsive score by the band Smoke Rise sounds as fresh today as it did back then, and the lyrics by James Lineberger examine the nature of violent martyrdom that echo 2019 headlines.
Our reimagined version will fashion a new story using the original songs, most importantly viewing both the cult-classic musical and the myth of St. Joan through a contemporary lens.
The profoundly inspiring story of Joan of Arc has held a universal fascination for over six centuries. From Verdi to Brecht, to George Bernard Shaw, artists and audiences alike have been captivated by the legend. But it has never been envisioned like this.
Our reimagined production takes place in a Catholic school in Buffalo, in the time it was written: December,1969. We begin on December 1 – the day of the first Vietnam War draft lottery – and end on New Year’s Eve, December,1969, as twenty young people prepare for the political and emotional upheaval awaiting them in 1970.
The production uses the sonic world of the original arrangements as the jumping off point. The ensemble-based staging, featuring a cast of talented young people, depicts a working-class community of Catholic school teenagers in upstate New York, facing the challenges of a corrupt war, a divided nation and a Church in crisis, all the while navigating their own romantic, sexual and political awakenings.
Survival is a rare beast, an exciting amalgam of classic libretto opera fused with rock hits that reach across time, space and genres, capturing the essence of everything that came before and transforming into something entirely new.
“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it.” ~ Joan of Arc