david byrne is making a musical about teen heroine joan of arc

The former Talking Heads frontman has recruited his favorite collaborators for an anthemic performance of a "completely relevant" story of teenage fortitude.

by Hannah Ongley
20 May 2016, 3:46pm

David Byrne has written another musical. "Well folks, I've written another musical," the former Talking Heads frontman announced on his website yesterday, revealing that this one is about Joan of Arc — the maid-turned-martyr who led the French army to victory before being burned at the stake at the age of just 19. That everyone is familiar with at least part of her story — namely, the death part — is precisely what made it attractive to Byrne, because "it means that everything that happens will feel like an irrevocable tragic advance toward a preordained ending." Musically, the performance will consist almost solely of spiritual anthems powered by a young woman and her backing band. 

Explaining why Joan of Arc's centuries-old story still resonates in 2016, Bryne said, "Because it's about someone — a nobody, a teenage girl — who inspired others to act, to overthrow their oppressors and take charge of their lives. She transforms from an innocent, into an androgynous warrior, and finally a martyr. Joan's story is about the power of the individual to make a difference and (for me) the hubris and sometimes oversteps that often go along with that. In other words — it's completely relevant."

The Contemporary Color mastermind has recruited all his favorite stage legends to help out behind-the-scenes. Many of them are collaborators from his clubby disco musical Here Lies Love, including director Alex Timbers and costume designer Clint Ramos. The musical is set to open next spring at The Public Theater in New York. 


Text Hannah Ongley
Photo by Ron Baker

Talking Heads
Joan of arc
David Byrne