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Saint Joan of the CROCKyard

Saint Joan of the Stockyards (German: Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe) is a play written by the German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht between 1929 and 1931, after the success of his musical, The Threepenny Opera, and during the period of his radical experimental work with the Lehrstücke. It is based on the musical that he co-authored with Elizabeth Hauptmann, Happy End (1929). In this version of the story of Joan of Arc, Brecht transforms her into “Joan Dark,” a member of the “Black Straw Hats” (a Salvation Army-like group), in 20th–century Chicago. The play charts Joan’s battle with Pierpont Mauler, the unctious owner of a meat-packing plant. Like her predecessor, Joan is a doomed woman, a martyr, and (initially, at least) an innocent in a world of strike-breakers, fat cats, and penniless workers. Like many of Brecht’s plays, it is laced with humor and songs as part of its epicdramaturgical structure and deals with the theme of emancipation from material suffering and exploitation.

– Wikipedia


SCENE ONE

MAULER

My capitalist colleague Cridle, I, Pierpont Mauler, must confide in you that after visiting the stockyard for the first time, I wish to sell my shares and become a decent man. 

CRIDLE

Another stock holder, Lennox, is rumored to have lost his shares.

MAULER

Let’s strike a deal. 

CRIDLE

Will it advance my position?

MAULER

Yes! And at the same time, it will devastate the lives of the 50,000 workers whose livelihoods are in the stockyards!

CRIDLE

Deal.

SCENE TWO

In front of the Black Straw Hats Mission,

JOAN

Hello denizens of the Black Straw Hats Mission!

WORKERS

JOAN

What is the Black Straw Hats Mission?

WORKERS

A Salvation Army-type organization whose events draw dozens of workers, but only as long as there is soup.

JOAN

I urge you to embrace God in light of life’s injustices!

WORKERS

What about our hunger?

JOAN

Embrace God!

WORKERS

What about the failing market?

JOAN

Embrace God!

WORKERS

No!

JOAN

I am finding it difficult to distract you from hunger and the failing market!

WORKER

Mauler has made a deal!

The workers panic. 

JOAN

I am desperate to find a way to connect to them. Maybe if I go to the stockyards in order to find and confront Mauler, that will do the trick. 

SCENE THREE

JOAN 

Martha, my inexplicable friend from the Black Straw Hats with whom I am desperate to connect, let us wait outside of the Livestock Exchange for the capitalists!

MARTHA

Yes. 

CRIDLE 

Let us discuss the market and Lennox’s sad fate!

MAULER

How is the market?

CRIDLE

Bad!

MAULER

If Lennox’s fate could be an emotion, what would it be?

CRIDLE

Sad!

Say, Pierpont, I insist that you lower the asking price for your shares of the stockyard. The state of the market, bad as it is, lessens their worth. 

JOAN

Why did you sell the slaughterhouse?

MAULER

I do not what to be involved with such a bloody business. 

JOAN

Well that seems // like a sensible answer –

MAULER

// You are stunning me with your simplicity and beauty!

You there! Worker! Give me your money!

He forcibly takes money from the worker.

Here Joan, distribute this to the poor. 

JOAN

That doesn’t // seem –

MAULER 

Don’t tell me you pity the workers, Joan?

I will arrange for you to have a tour and see the wickedness of the poor workers whom you pity.

JOAN

I am stunned by the cruelty I am seeing!

WORKER

Psst, hey Joan. 

I want to advance myself. Will you take my dangerous position?

JOAN

Yes. 

Oh no! I have found myself trapped among the workers!

Oh no! I am beginning to see the corruption of the larger institutions, including my own Black Straw Hats! I hereby disaffiliate from the mission!

SCENE FOUR

MAULER

I see the imminent downfall of the market. My financial situation is poor, and I can only attribute that fact to my poor relationship with God! I will embrace religion and warn by colleagues that their property will fail them, but turning to God could save them from destitution!

Colleagues! Your property will fail you, but turing to God could save you from destitution!

JOAN

It is the end of the play.

MAULER

I preach with the Black Straw Hats now!

JOAN

And I have died a bitter, cynical, martyr in a world of heartless capitalists, strike-breakers, and penniless workers.

END OF PLAY

By ICKipedia

ICKipedia Theatre is a theatre comedy podcast which engages with classic plays and their contemporary adaptations. By reducing revered works to their truest forms — the Wikipedia plot summary — we poke fun at, and poke holes in, the western canon.

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