Inspired By | Joan of Arc

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Most actors have a dream role. Most actors have more than one.

I have a both a dream role and a dream type. Since my college graduation some moons ago, I have often been cast as children and animals. (I still get carded enough at bars to understand why this happens.) I am grateful for the work. Being an actor is just as hard as it's rumored to be, and the competition is steep. However, as I march farther into adulthood, the more I want to play adult roles with adult problems.

That being said, my dream role is Joan in George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, so apparently I'm full of contradictions. (Summarizing Joan feels futile, so if you are not up to speed on her story, check out the New York Times article, "Joan of Arc: Enduring Power". This article also has my favorite artistic representation of Joan. Many paintings of her are very sexualized, and this one isn't.)

My love of Joan really began about a year and a half ago in an acting class. We were asked to bring in a dream scene or a dream role. Though I was terrified, I brought in Joan. Our teacher (the incomparable Andy McGinn), encouraged us to take our time and be as prepared as possible. So, I researched Joan tirelessly, and the more I read, the more I was fascinated by her conviction. She never wavered in her beliefs and her mission, even in the face of horrific death.

 Attempting my best Khaleesi.

Attempting my best Khaleesi.

Actors, and really all creatives, are told (numerous times, often by strangers) that how we are attempting to live our lives, and what we create is pointless, or unnecessary, or a pipe dream, or unsustainable. To read about a 17 year old girl, who, in 1428, announced that she was God's choice to lead an army that would take France back from England, and then did just that, even when a gaggle of men said she couldn't and called her a witch, really struck a chord with me.

Around this time, I was also listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's podcast, Magic Lessons. (Yes! This is the same Elizabeth Gilbert I quoted in the last post, Blue Magic.) In one episode, Liz spoke with Martha Beck. (Martha Beck is Oprah's life coach. OPRAH.) They were speaking about facing fear as an artist and continuing to create, and Martha's advice was to not shrink from fear or scuttle around it, but to jump into the fire. She said, "Every time you go through the fire you come out with a new life and its better than the last."

It was around this time period that I was attempting to create change within my own life, and Martha's quote coupled with my love of Joan, stuck with me. It inspired a lot of choices and change and fires, and it also changed my wardrobe. 

Let's jump in!

THE EVENT: Happy hour, then a musical with my friend, Britt.

THE BROKEN RULE:  Women shop in the women's department.

THE OUTFIT: Before I researched Joan, and before I'd heard of Martha Beck, my wardrobe was mostly black, white, and blue. At some point, I subconsciously decided that those were the shades I felt safest in, and their prevalence in my wardrobe multiplied.

With this idea of jumping into the fire, I started bringing fire-colored clothing into my wardrobe. For me, these colors became a reminder and a totem to what I wanted to accomplish. When I wore them I felt powerful and visible. 

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It started with bits of red, then lots of red, then it became a variety of warm tones from orange to gold to rusty brown. And still, this persists. I continue to wear these shades as reminders of change and power and courage, and every time I do, it's still inspired by Joan who fiercely faced her own fire. (And Martha!)

For this occasion, I wore this gold bomber jacket that I bought many years ago in the men's department of the American Apparel factory in LA. I loved it then, but was always too sheepish to wear it. Now, I wear it all the time. (Though I wish the material breathed a bit more!) I paired it with those Madewell jeans I now live in and a white collared tank. The outfit was finished with red: red saltwater sandals and a red purse. 

THE EXPERIENCE: I am not a natural self-promoter.

What I really mean by that is that I'm friggin' terrible at it. HORRENDOUS, really. A lot of acting isn't just the art, but also advocating for yourself when you're not on stage. (Joan was fantastic at advocating for herself.) While this is still a skill that I struggle with, I've started wearing my Joan colors to theatrical events. At the barest minimum, they make me more visible. At the most, they remind me to cheerlead for myself.

At this particular performance, tactful shmoozing wasn't really on the docket, but I still wanted to feel interesting and confident. Also, it's hard not to have a good time while wearing a shiny gold bomber jacket.

I can't say what impression I may have left on others, but Britt and I had a grand time. 

THE CONCLUSION: I realize, when you get down to the bottom of what I'm saying, it's a bit dark. My fire is hypothetical and hopeful. Joan's fire was literal. She died for her convictions. I'm grateful that I live in a time period where my likelihood of being burnt at the stake is low, and I'm grateful for Joan. I don't mean to minimize her death by equating it to a change in my wardrobe. Hopefully, it's clear that my wardrobe transformation is symbolic. Someday, I'd like to visit the small French town where Joan met her fire. Christian told me this is dark, too, but maybe I am a little bit dark, now. 

I'll be back on Wednesday with a significantly lighter post. We got our engagement photos back! I love them! I'll be sharing how I chose what to wear, and whether or not I broke any fashion rules. 

Happy Sunday, friends!! Sundays are my favorite day!

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My friend, Britt, graciously took all of these photos for me at intermission. She's the absolute best!


 Joan from the NYT article referenced above. Click the picture to be taken to the article. The artist is Chloé Poizat.

Joan from the NYT article referenced above. Click the picture to be taken to the article. The artist is Chloé Poizat.

Ready for Red?