JK Rowling Slams London's Globe Theatre for Non-Binary Joan of Arc Portrayal

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 12, 2022

The poster art for "I, Joan" at London's Globe Theatre
The poster art for "I, Joan" at London's Globe Theatre  (Source:Globe Theatre)

J.K. Rowling is continuing to use her platform to campaign for what she feels are women's rights. But her rhetoric has increasingly landed her labeled as a TERF: a trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

The latest development comes after London's Globe Theatre in London chose to put on a production of a new play that portrays Joan of Arc as non-binary, reported the Daily Mail. Entitled "I, Joan" it is scheduled to run from August 25 through October 22. For more information, visit the Globe Theatre website.

Written by Charlie Josephine ("Bitch Boxer") and directed by Ilinca Radulian (Co-Director, "Richard III," at the Globe), the theater's website describes "I, Joan," "as a powerful and joyous new play which tells Joan of Arc's story anew."

But a group of women's rights campaigners said the non-binary portrayal was "insulting and damaging."

In response to the portrayal, Rowling, who has spoken out in the past about transgender people having access to women's only spaces, liked a remark from someone that read: "Coming next: Napoleon was a woman because he was defeated at Waterloo."


In an interview with the Daily Mail, Heather Binning of the Women's Rights Network said the theatre's move demonstrates "just how our arts and creative industries have taken on the woke mantle."

She added, "Without realising that 'being kind' to one group of people actually hurts and damages another important and fundamental group."

Binning stressed that Joan of Arc was female. "Her early years were spent cooking and cleaning and looking after the animals. When she was 10 she had a vision that she was to fight for France. In order to do this she took on the outward appearance of being male."

In another quote about the portrayal, Dr Sarah Rutherford said the idea the historical heroine could be no-binary was insulting.

"We know she was a woman. Please stop applying a modern nonsensical ideology to historical figures."

People in France, where Joan of Arc is lauded as a national hero for helping the country keep the British at bay, are also reportedly up in arms about the portrayal.

"This is playing with history," said Francois Durand, an 82-year-old retired civil servant who was visiting the famous gold statue of Joan in the centre of Paris on Friday.

He added, "Joan of Arc is first and foremost a Catholic saint, and somebody who represents heroism. Her sexuality is irrelevant."

To be clear, being non-binary is not a sexuality. However, everyone seems to be missing the whole point of theatre said the Globe Theatre's artistic director Michelle Terry.

"Shakespeare did not write historically accurate plays. He took figures of the past to ask questions about today's world," said Terry. "Our writers of today are doing no different, whether that's looking at Ann Boleyn, Nell Gwynn, Emilia Bassano, Edward II, or Joan of Arc."

Terry insists that Shakespeare would have approved of the production.

'The Globe is a place of imagination. A place where, for a brief amount of time, we can at least consider the possibility of world's elsewhere," said Terry. "This production is simply offering the possibility of another point of view. That is the role of theatre: to simply ask the question 'imagine if?'"

Imagine if people waited to see the show before judging it. The show opens Aug. 24.