Non-binary Joan of Arc play receives joyful standing ovation despite anti-trans backlash

I, Joan, a theatrical reimagining of “legendary leader” Joan of Arc as a gender non-conforming hero who uses they/them pronouns, received a standing ovation at its premiere at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

The decision to present Joan as non-binary in this new production was disappointingly, but unsurprisingly, met with backlash by members of the right-wing press.

Queer author and film-maker Fox Fisher posted the rapturous applause to Twitter, with theatre-goers getting to their feet to applaud Isobel Thom, who plays Joan.


When details of the new production were first revealed, columnist Daniel Hodges tweeted: “The world has gone mad. Literally mad.”

That was despite his own mother, Glenda Jackson, playing the titular role of Shakespeare’s King Lear at the Old Vic in 2016.

So-called gender critical activists Hadley Freeman, Allison Pearson and more claimed that the play is an attempt to “cancel history’s inspirational women”.

Joan of Arc reimagined as non-binary hero in new Shakespeare's Globe production

Joan of Arc reimagined as non-binary hero in new Shakespeare’s Globe production (Claire Gardner/Getty Images)

In response to the backlash, a blog post on identity in I, Joan was posted on the Globe Theatre‘s website.

“Regarding the use of pronouns, ‘they’ to refer to a singular person has been traced by the Oxford English Dictionary to as early as 1375, years before Joan was even born,” it reads.

“Regardless, theatres do not deal with ‘historical reality’.”

Their Twitter states: “We are not the first to present Joan in this way, and we will not be the last.”

Fans and critics alike have lauded the production, with both The Evening Standard and The Telegraph giving it five stars, calling it “joyful and unifying” and “epic” respectively.

Those in the audience have been praising for the production for a variety of reasons.

One wrote: “For gender non-conforming people, I, Joan at @The_Globe is affirming. For allies, it aids understanding. For anybody else, it’s a wake up call to do better and to stop trying to describe us in your own words.”

Historian Florence H R Scott writes for PinkNews“The historical Joan did not use ‘they/them’ pronouns – not least because she spoke Middle French. Middle French had no equivalent pronoun, though it’s interesting that singular ‘they’ did exist in English as early as the 14th century.

“Does that mean it’s inappropriate to explore a non-binary Joan of Arc through art? Of course not – art is interpretative.”

The Globe website writes: “A cry for courage erupts in the Globe Theatre this summer with the premiere of I, Joan, a powerful and joyous new play which tells Joan of Arc’s story anew.”

The production runs until the 22 October and tickets are available from

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