Joan of Arc

The play was written by Frederick von Schiller and opened on June 22, 1909 at the Stadium of Harvard University.

A June 23, 1909 review of the play went this way:

"As the last rays of a hot sun cast their light on the top of the great Harvard Stadium, more than 15,000 people sat in the bowl of America's great amphitheater and gazed in wonder and astonishment as Maude Adams began the triumph of her career when, assisted by a strong company and 1,000 men, woman and children, she produced a new version of Joan of Arc in the open air..."

"Miss Adam's impersonation of the Maid of Orleans is the result of long and intelligent study, and from all that could be judged from the distant view possible last night it is a wonderfully fine and finished piece of characterization. Simplicity and humility seemed to be the dominating characteristics of the impersonation..."

"When her voice finally winged its way, in her opening speech in all its well-known melody, beauty and tenderness-a piece of supreme vocal and technical art not lived up to throughout, sad to say-the response of the mighty audience was instant and generous-even as the echoes of Joan's thrilling, girlish voice were willingly helped out in the harts of those who allowed with simple justice and common sense for the tremendous distances to be bridged and tremendous odds to be encountered in as such an enormous production."

From the book: Charles Frohman:" Manager and Man by Issac F. Marcosson and Daniel Frohman, with an Appreciation by James M. Barrie. 1916

One morning he went into Charles Frohman's office and put the idea to him, adding that he thought Miss Adams a Joan of Arc would provide the proper medium or such a spectacle. Frohman was about to go to Europe. With a quick wave of the hand and a swift "All right," he assented to what became one of the most distinguished events in the history of the American stage.

Schiller's great poem, "The Maid of Orleans" was selected. In suggesting the battle heroine of France, Williams touched upon one of Maude Adams' great adumbrations. for years she had studied the character of Joan. To her Joan was the very idealization of all womanhood. Bernhardt, Davenport, and others had tried to dramatize this most appealing of all tragedies in the history of France and had practically failed. It remained for slight, almost fragile, Maude dams to vivify and give the character an enduring interpretation.

"Joan of Arc," as the pageant was called, was projected on a stupendous scale. Fifteen hundred supernumeraries were employed. John W. Alexander, the famous artist, was employed to design the costumes. A special electric-lighting plan was installed in the stadium.

Maude Adams concentrated herself upon the preparations with a fidelity and energy that were little short of amazing. One detail will illustrate. As most people know, Miss Adams had to appear mounted several times during the play and ride at the head of her charging army.

This equestrianism gave Charles Frohman the greatest solicitude. He feared that she would be injured in some way, and he kept cabling warnings to her, and to her associates who were responsible for her safety, to be careful.

Miss Adams, however, determined to be a good horse-woman, and for more than a month she practiced every afternoon in a riding -academy in New York. Since the horse had to carry the trappings of clanging armor, amid all the tumult of battle, she rehearsed every day with all sort of noisy apparatus hanging about him. Shots were fired, colored banners and flags were flaunted about he, and pieces of metal were fastened to her riding-skirt so that the steed would be accustomed to the constant contact of a sword.

Although the preparations for her own part were most exacting and onerous, Miss Adams exercised a supervising direction over the whole production, which was done in the most lavish fashion. She had every resource of the Charles Frohman organization at her command, and it was employed to the very last detail.

"Joan of Arc" was presented on the evening of June 22, 1909 in the presence of over fifteen thousand people. It was a magnificent success, and proved to be unquestionably the greatest theatrical pageant every staged in this country. The elaborate settings were handled mechanically. Forests dissolved into regal courts; fields melted into castles. A hidden orchestra played the superb music of Beethoven's "Eroica," which accentuated the noble poetry of Schiller.

The first scene showed the maid of Domremy wandering in the twilight with her vision; the last revealed her dying of her wounds at the spring, soon to be buried under the shields of her captains.

"Joan of Arc" netted $15,000, which Charles Frohman turned over to Harvard University to do with as it pleased.

There is no doubt that "Joan of Arc" was the supreme effort of Miss Adams' career. She was the living, breathing incarnation of the Maid. When she was told hat Charles Frohman had refused an offer of 450,000 for the motion-picture rights, she said:

"Of course it was refused. this performance is all poetry and solemnity."

From the book Broadway by Brooks Atkinson 1970

As a human being, Maude Adams was something of a mystery; only a few people penetrated the wall of air with which she surrounded herself. She probably lacked self-confidence. But she undertook stupendous projects when she was challenged. In the summer of 1909, she played Saint Joan in a spectacular outdoor production in the Harvard Stadium. It sounds impossible now, and certainly outside the range of an elfin-like person of decorous habits. She made her entrance riding a horse (dubbed by her ‘The Great White Peril' because she was afraid of him), and rode into the massive amphitheater, supported by a cast of 1,400 members of the Massachusetts National Guard, many of them riding horses. How could the audience have heard the lines this frail woman spoke in this unroofed space? Perhaps the spectacle was enough.

The Mansfield News, April 29, 1909

The Syracuse Herald, May 9, 1909

The Mansfield News, May 22, 1909

The Syracuse Herald, May 23, 1909

The Syracuse Herald, May 23, 1909

Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, June 9, 1909

The Oakland Tribune, June 16, 1909

Coshocton Daily Times, June 22, 1909

The Syracuse Herald, June 22, 1909

The Gettysburg Times, June 22, 1909

The Nebraska State Journal, July 11, 1909

Colorado Springs Gazette, Oct. 8, 1909

The Oakland Tribune, June 23, 1909

The first article refers to a painter being hired to do a life-size portrait of Maude Adams as Joan of Arc. The other four articles in the first row all are pre-play articles. It's also obvious from the number of articles and from how many different papers they are from there was a lot of people looking forward to her playing Joan of Arc.

From the 1919 book Maid of Orleans, which had a picture of Maude Adams performing as Joan of Arc. The book itself is written as a story rather than a play.

The following is the Maid of Orleans book in .rar format. This is simply to make it easy on anyone who wants all the material but doesn't want the task of downloading image after image. The book is in .rar format. Click and choose 'save'

. The book The Maid of Orleans

The following work consists of my material on these web pages along with scans of all the pages in the book the play is based on. This is simply to make it easy on anyone who wants all the material but doesn't want the task of downloading image after image. The book is in .rar format.

The other material in this section. Clip on the link and chose 'save target' then place the book as a file onto your computer.

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