Isabelle Arc is a hard-working, pious peasant woman with an odd and extraordinary daughter. When adolescent Joan announces she’s having visions, her mother isn’t quite sure if she should credit the Holy Spirit or teen hormones. But with faith in God and her destiny, Joan sets off to lead the French at war. As she ascends from farm girl to holy martyr, we follow the unexpected perspective of her proud, fierce, and frightened mom in this deeply moving drama about the glories and challenges of raising an exceptional child.
Read a synopsis of Mother of the Maid here.
“Full of discovery. Powerful & stunning.” –New York Magazine
“Witty and piercing! Jane Anderson perfectly melds comedy and drama.” –Daily Beast
This production is made in part by:
Photos by Michael Brosilow
by Catey Sullivan
September 23, 2019
3 Stars (out of 4)
‘Mother of the Maid’ depicts the ferocity required when Joan of Arc’s your daughter
Anyone who has ever been exasperated by a petulant teenager will sympathize with Isabelle Arc. When her daughter Joan’s sullen secretiveness exceeds even the moodiest drama built into adolescence, Isabelle knows immediately something is wrong. When Joan petulantly announces Saint Catherine has been appearing to her in visions, Isabelle is initially relieved and not a little thrilled.
If you get into a good convent, she tells her daughter with a conspiratorial grin, they’ll teach you how to read and write! Of course, this isn’t what Joan has in mind. When the young girl continues that the Saint has instructed her to lead the French army and rid the country of the English, Isabelle reacts how you’d expect any sane, caring 15th century mother would. This is ridiculous. Has her previously thoughtful, down-to-earth daughter joined the bubble-headed “fairy tree girls” who thrive on fantasy and see supernatural wee folk every time a leaf moves?
Grace Smith’s scrappy Joan credibly veers between absolute confidence and equally intense neediness. Joan’s righteous arrogance might be divinely inspired, but when she’s captured by the English and forced to face the fire, all she wants is her mother. When the flames start crackling, you can almost feel her heart rate skyrocket. Despite her relatability, Joan doesn’t have the white-hot charisma of someone who you can imagine inspiring hundreds of men to follow her into battle while also reversing more than a millennia of legally and culturally enforced gender roles. She’d make a great Mathlete Club president, but defies belief as an iconic savior of France from the 100 Years War.
But the play belongs to Kate Fry’s Isabelle. She’s put through the emotional mangle, traveling from awestruck wonder that her daughter has been tapped by God to rage-fueled bitterness that her daughter has been seemingly abandoned by God and mankind. Fry captures the vulnerability of a woman in a world where the natural and the supernatural weren’t clearly divided and when most women’s options were limited to praying, procreating and back-breaking labor.
by Barbara Vitello
September 26, 2019
3 Stars (Out of 4)
Northlight’s ‘Mother of the Maid’ revisits Joan of Arc from different perspective
Mothers who parented daughters and the daughters they parented may recognize themselves in Isabelle and Joan Arc, the titular characters in Jane Anderson’s emotional “Mother of the Maid” at Northlight Theatre in Skokie.
Anderson’s 2018 play, directed briskly and unobtrusively by Northlight artistic director BJ Jones, offers a different perspective on Saint Joan. By telling the story from Isabelle’s point-of-view, “Mother of the Maid” highlights not only the conflicts that divide mothers and daughters, but also the bonds that unite them, which the play’s penultimate moments make heart-rendingly clear.
Anderson (“The Wife,” “Olive Kitteridge”) underscores her point by using modern language to put a contemporary spin on the relationship between the peasant woman and her exceptional child, who communed with saints. It’s a reminder to women of all ages of twas ever thus between mothers and daughters: While the bond between them can be strained, it isn’t easily broken.
CHICAGO THEATRE REVIEW
by Colin Douglas
September 23, 2019
Mother of the Maid
As with the musical “Titanic,” the audience attending Jane Anderson’s latest play knows pretty much how this story about Joan of Arc is going to end. It’s the journey to the tragic climax that makes all the difference. The author of “The Baby Dance” and “Defying Gravity”, applies a unique approach with this mythic legend. She tells the story from the perspective of Isabelle d’Arc, Joan’s peasant mother. Isabelle pops in and out of the drama, sometimes acting as an omniscient observing narrator, but most often as a concerned mother and farmer’s wife. The dialogue is often anachronistic, sometimes employing present-day mannerisms, contemporary phrases and unexpected four-letter words. The result is the backstory of Saint Joan, told with a modern flair.
There are many stunning scenes in this captivating, modernistic backstory of Joan of Arc that both amuse and enlighten. She’s presented in a way that makes the Maid of Orleans seem like a real adolescent girl, and not just some obscure historical character from long ago. Lacing her play with contemporary dialogue, Jane Anderson makes her story accessible, especially for younger audiences.
by Karen Topham
September 24, 2019
Mother of the Maid: The agony of parenting
I have never wept so copiously – before or after any film – as I did in 1948, sitting next to my young Catholic girlfriend at the climactic moment of Joan of Arc, starring Ingrid Bergman. In our early adolescence, both of us identified with Joan and were shattered by the pain, horror, and injustice of her fate.
Then, we identified with Joan, and now — 71 years later, responding to a brilliant play by Jane Anderson– we have reached the maturity to identify again, but this time with the angst of Joan’s mother.
Anderson does an amazing job of humanizing a myth – beginning with the expected conflict between teen and parent. But if this is an unusual teen, it is also a story of a unique parent – able to accept what would at first seem impossible: her child’s mystical experience with visions of St. Catherine.
No mother in the Northlight audience could think it was worth it. Mothers, holding their newborns in their arms, pray for their health, their happiness, and their normalcy, not their genius or ultimate martyrdom. The audience sat transfixed at the end. Anderson has captured the universal within this very special, memorable history.
by Hayley Osborn
October 3, 2019
Divine Arcs: A Review of Mother of the Maid
A mother with a teenage daughter has many hopes and fears for their child. “I hope I raised her right.” “I wish we would talk more.” “I’m afraid for her safety in the current political climate.” “I wish she would wear a dress.” But rarely does a mother’s hopes or fears include, “I hope my daughter hears voices that tell her to save all of France.” That was an aspiration and/or fear that hadn’t even crossed Isabelle Arc’s mind. “Mother of the Maid” is the tale of a mom trying to support her teenage daughter while reconciling her family’s response to raising said child. This may sound like your ordinary family drama, but the difference is that her daughter is Joan of Arc: French heroine, Roman Catholic saint, and, of course, The Maid of Orléans.
Written by Jane Anderson, “Mother of the Maid,” in its Midwest premiere at Northlight, is a surprisingly humorous and relatable portrayal of parenting. Director BJ Jones does an impressive job of honoring the source material while bringing a fresh take to a timeworn tale. Isabelle Arc is a middle-class mother of five, struggling to raise her angsty teenage daughter in a climate of gender identity, societal privilege, and political agendas that threaten the lives of her children.
Kate Fry (Isabelle Arc) and Grace Smith (Joan of Arc) lead an army of adept actors through difficult situations that reflect our current archaic atmosphere. Isabelle prays like a god-fearing woman that was taught to speak to God but not to read. When Smith’s Joan is forgotten by her country despite her heroic military work, Isabelle experiences her betrayal and treats her with the tenderness of a mother with her newborn baby. Smith convincingly transitions from angsty teen to confident commander to demoralized prisoner, all while portraying a girl that made people listen to her at a time when women had no voice.
Kareem makes his Northlight debut. Chicago: A Christmas Carol, Rock N’ Roll, Gas For Less, King Lear (Goodman); The Wheel (Steppenwolf); 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Blood Wedding, Moby Dick, The Little Prince, Big Lake Big City, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, Peter Pan (Lookingglass); Oklahoma! (Paramount); The Good Book, The Illusion (Court); Julius Caesar, Hamlet, The Caretaker, Heartbreak House (Writers); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Edward II, Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare); A Disappearing Number, Blood and Gifts (Timeline); The Real Thing, The Skin of Our Teeth (Remy Bumppo); and Othello (The Gift). Regionally: Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Notre Dame Summer Shakespeare, Pittsburgh Irish & Classical, and four seasons with Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Film/TV: The Merry Gentleman, Chicago Fire (NBC). He’s an ensemble member of Lookingglass where he made his playwriting debut with Act(s) of God, and is a recipient of the 2011 3Arts Artist Award.
Hayley makes her Northlight debut. Chicago credits include Twilight Bowl, The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window, The Little Foxes (Goodman); Women In Jeopardy (First Folio Theatre); Spin Moves (Ignition Festival of New Plays, Victory Gardens); The Mystery Of Love And Sex (Writers ); Domesticated and the First Look Repertory of New Work reading Stupid Kid (Steppenwolf); Fugitive Awareness (First Floor Theatre); and Jake’s Women (Spartan Theatre). Regional credits include A Trick Of The Light (Peninsula Players Theatre) and Frankenstein (Cardinal Stage Company). Hayley is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the School at Steppenwolf. She is represented by Stewart Talent.
Kate Fry returns to Northlight, where she performed in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Outside Mullingar, and The Miser. Other Chicago credits include The Winter’s Tale, Ah, Wilderness! (Goodman); The Belle of Amherst, Electra, The Hard Problem and others (Court); Marjorie Prime, Hedda Gabler, The Letters, A Minister’s Wife, Oh Coward! (Writers) as well as productions with Victory Gardens, Chicago Shakespeare, Apple Tree Theatre, and Marriott Theatre. She has also worked with Center Theatre Group in LA, McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and Lincoln Center. TV credits include episodes on Empire (Fox), Boss (Starz), Chicago PD (NBC), and Proven Innocent (Fox). She is the recipient of four Joseph Jefferson awards, the local Sarah Siddons award, the After Dark award, and Chicago Magazine’s actress of the year. Kate is married to actor/teacher Timothy Edward Kane; they have two sons.
Ricardo is delighted to make his Northlight Theatre debut in Mother of the Maid. He most recently appeared in Ah Wilderness and Destiny of Desire at Goodman Theatre. Other acting credits include In The Heights (Paramount) and the world premieres of Lydia (Denver Center Theatre), Fish Men (Goodman) and Ground (Actors Theatre in Louisville). Ricardo has appeared on stages across Chicago and the nation including Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Lookingglass and South Coast Rep. Recent television credits include Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Sirens and Boss. Ricardo is the Executive Artistic Director of Teatro Vista, the premiere Latino theatre company in the Midwest, where he leads an ensemble of 40+ actors, resident designers and playwrights.
Casey returns to Northlight after appearing in The Beauty Queen of Leenane. You may have seen Casey in the role of Joey in Laura Eason’s The Undeniable Sound of Right Now at Raven Theatre directed by BJ Jones. Other Chicago theatre credits include: Hooded or Being Black for Dummies (First Floor Theater); Ah, Wilderness! (Goodman Theatre); What of the Night? (Stage Left & Cor Theatre); Hand to God (Victory Gardens); Hamlet, The Grapes of Wrath (The Gift Theatre); #Newslaves, EOM (Ignition Festival Victory Gardens); Voyage (Cock and Bull); The Revel (The House Theatre of Chicago); Post Apocalypto (Sketchbook ’15, Collaboraction); In a Little World of Our Own (Irish Theatre of Chicago); and Charlotte’s Web (Emerald City Theatre). Casey received his MFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University and is represented by Gray Talent Group. Visit him at www.caseymorris.info
Grace is thrilled to make her Northlight debut. Chicago: On Clover Road (American Blues), Plantation! (Lookingglass), and work with the Shakespeare Project of Chicago. New York/Regional: Peter and the Starcatcher (City Equity Theatre); Alice in Wonderland, As You Like It, King Lear, A Christmas Carol, The Importance of Being Earnest (Alabama Shakespeare); Censored on Final Approach (The Gym at Judson); and The School for Lies (Boxed Wine Productions). Film/TV: Knives and Skin, The World’s Astonishing News!, Dorm Therapy. Ms. Smith is the co-creator of MARYSHELLEYSHOW, which she has performed in Maine, NYC, and the Chicago Fringe Festival. She is a proud Equity member and is represented by Paonessa Talent. gracesmithactor.com.
Lady of the Court
Penelope is ecstatic to return to Northlight after previously appearing in Into the Breeches!, Curve of Departure, Eclipsed, Gee’s Bend, and Bee Luther Hatchee. Other Chicago credits include Life Sucks, Black Diamond, The Years the Locusts Have Eaten (Lookingglass); The House That Will Not Stand, No One As Nasty (Victory Gardens); A Christmas Carol, The Story, Crowns, (Goodman); Love & Information (Remy Bumppo); We’re Gonna Be Okay, The Projects, Agnes of God, Doubt, People’s Temple (American Theatre Company); Will You Stand Up (Erasing the Distance Theatre Company); Seven Homeless Mammoths Wandering New England (Theatre Wit); Love Lies Bleeding (Steppenwolf); 10 Virgins, Voyeurs de Venus (Chicago Dramatists); The Clink (Rivendell Theatre). She created and performed her own solo show How I Jack Master Funked The Sugar in My Knee Caps. Film/Web/TV: Dubious Ruffians, Olympia, Flowers, Matching Pursuit, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice, and Boss.
BJ Jones is in his 22nd season as Artistic Director of Northlight. Mr Jones is a two-time Joseph Jefferson Award Winning actor and a three-time nominated director. He has directed the world premieres of Relativity, Charm, Faceless, White Guy on the Bus, Chapatti, The Outgoing Tide (Jeff Nomination,) Better Late, and Rounding Third. Notably he has directed productions of Outside Mullingar, Grey Gardens, The Price, The Lieutenant of Innishmore, Curve of Departure, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. As a producer he has guided the world premieres of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Shining Lives, The Last Five Years, and Studs Terkel’s ‘The Good War.’ Additional directorial credits include Pitmen Painters (Jeff Nomination, Timeline); 100 Saints You Should Know (Steppenwolf); Glengarry Glen Ross (Susie Bass Nomination, Alliance Theatre, Atlanta); The Lady with All the Answers (Cherry Lane, New York); Animal Crackers (Baltimore Center Stage); Three Musketeers, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing (Utah Shakespeare Festival), and four productions at the Galway International Arts Festival. As a performer, he has appeared at Northlight, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court and other theatres throughout Chicago. Film/TV credits include The Fugitive, Body Double, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Early Edition, Cupid, and Turks, among others.
Jane Anderson is an Emmy award-winning writer and director for theater, film and television. Plays include: The Baby Dance, Defying Gravity, Looking for Normal, The Quality of Life, The Escort, Lynette at 3AM, Food & Shelter and The Last Time We Saw Her. Her plays have been produced Off-Broadway and in theaters around the country, including ACT, Arena Stage, Actors Theater of Louisville, Williamstown, Shakespeare & Company, The McCarter Theater, Long Wharf, Geffen Playhouse, and the Pasadena Playhouse. Her latest play, Mother of the Maid, premiered at the Public Theater in 2018 and starred Glenn Close. Screenwriting credits: The Wife, starring Glenn Close, How to Make An American Quilt, It Could Happen to You and The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio, starring Julianne Moore & Woody Harrelson, which she also directed. Documentary film: Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson, featured on HBO. Television writing credits: HBO’s Olive Kitteridge, starring Frances McDormand for which she received an Emmy Award for best teleplay and limited series, a Writers Guild Award for best teleplay and nominated for the Golden Globe for best limited series. She wrote HBO’s The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom, for which she received an Emmy, Penn Award and Writers Guild Award for best teleplay. She wrote and directed The Baby Dance for Showtime which she adapted from her play and received the Peabody Award as well as Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. She wrote and directed Normal for HBO (starring Jessica Lang & Tom Wilkinson) adapted from her play Looking for Normal which received Emmy, Golden Globe and Directors’ Guild and Writers’ Guild nominations for best writing and directing. She wrote and directed When Billie Beat Bobby starring Holly Hunter and Ron Silver. And wrote and directed the first segment of HBO’s If These Walls Could Talk II which starred Vanessa Redgrave for which she received an Emmy nomination for best teleplay.
Off-Broadway credits: Ride the Cyclone (MCC), Othello: The Remix (The Westside Theater). International credits: Shakespeare’s Globe, Unicorn Theater (London) The Market Theater (South Africa), The Neuss (Germany), Gdansk Shakespeare Theater (Poland), The Cultch (Vancouver), DUCTAC Theater (Dubai), Brice Mason Center (New Zealand), and The Edinburgh Festival (Scotland). Regional credits: Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Court, Writers, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Asolo Repertory Theater, Signature Theater, Walnut Street Theater, Children’s Theater Company, Utah Shakespeare, Getty Villa Outdoor Theater, Delaware Theatre Company, Paramount, Victory Gardens, Drury Lane, Northlight, American Theater Company, Marriott, Griffin Theater, Windy City Playhouse, Steep Theater, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Dallas Theatre Center, and Mercury Theater. Mr. Davis is a co-founder of the Chicago based design firm Aether and Nyx and serves as adjunct faculty at Columbia College having received his MFA from Northwestern University. www.scottadamdavis.com
Izumi is thrilled to be at Northlight again after designing Mansfield Park, Faceless, The Mousetrap, Charm, and You Can’t Take It With You. Her recent design credits include Twilight Bow (Goodman); A Doll’s House, Part Two (Steppenwolf); An American Dream (Lyric Unlimited); Cambodian Rock Band, If I Forget (Victory Gardens); and Miracle (Miracle Productions at Royal George). Izumi is a resident artist at Albany Park Theater Project. She received the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award, and her MFA in Stage Design from Northwestern University.
Christine A. Binder
Christine has designed for Writers, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Court, Lookingglass, Geva Theatre, and the Joffrey Ballet among others. Her opera designs include work at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theatre, San Diego Opera, New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Houston Grand Opera. Recent designs include: Mansfield Park (Northlight), A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Steppenwolf), and Onegin (Canadian Opera Company and Washington National Opera). Upcoming productions are: The Agitators (Alabama Shakespeare); The Last Match (Writers); Her Honor Mayor Jane Byrne, Lookingglass Alice (Lookingglass); and Onegin (Seiji Ozawa Festival/Matsumoto, Japan). Ms. Binder has been nominated for Joseph Jefferson Awards for her work with Court, Northlight, and Lookingglass. She is an Artistic Associate with Lookingglass and Head of Lighting at The Theatre School at DePaul University.
Andre has designed the Broadway productions of Metamorphoses, I Am My Own Wife and 33 Variations (Drama Desk Award nomination) as well as the world premiere of The Clean House at Yale Repertory and Lincoln Center. Based in Chicago, his work has appeared on most of the city’s stages including Northlight (Shining Lives with Amanda Dehnert), Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court, and Lookingglass where he is an associate artist. He has composed music and designed sound for theaters around the U.S., most frequently at the Oregon and California Shakespeare Festivals, Berkeley Repertory, Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Seattle Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse and Center Theater Group. Choral works include: Winesburg, Ohio,Eastland, Whitman, Undone (with Ben Sussman), and Paris By Night (with Amy Warren).
Production Stage Manager
Rita is proud to be starting her 13th season at Northlight, where she has the stage manager for over 30 productions. Other recent projects: The Polar Express train ride, seven seasons of The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater, and productions at Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, and Northlight’s productions of Chapatti and Stella & Lou in Galway, Ireland. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to six-year-old Charlie, and has been a member of Actors’ Equity for 18 years. Thank you for supporting live theatre!
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OPEN CAPTIONING – Mother of the Maid, October 12, at 2:30pm
This performance will be open captioned. All seats do not provide a clear view of the captions. Please indicate your need for captioning when purchasing your tickets by phone 847.673.6300 to be seated in the correct area, or use the “Purchase by Seat” option when buying online (select the LEFT section and look for the symbol indicating seats for open captioning).