Saint Joan of the Stockyards

"Saint Joan of the Stockyards" (in German: "Die Heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe") is a play written by 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". Brecht's play is based on Elisabeth Hauptmann's musical "Happy End".Willett (1959, 36-37).] Brecht's version of Saint Joan transforms Joan of Arc into 'Joan Dark', a member of the 'Black Straw Hats' (a Salvation Army-like group) in twentieth-century Chicago. The play charts Joan's battle with Pierpont Mauler, the unctuous 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, s, and penniless workers. Like many of Brecht's plays it is laced with humor and songs as part of its epic dramaturgical structure. Brecht used this play to create a heroic drama in essence, to ridicule the heroic drama. The play also crudely objectifies religion, which prevents men from helping themselves.

The play was broadcast on Berlin Radio on the 11th April, 1932, with Carola Neher as Joan and Fritz Kortner as Mauler. The cast also included Helene Weigel, Ernst Busch, Peter Lorre, Paul Bildt and Friedrich Gnass. The play did not receive its first theatrical production until the 30th April, 1959, at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, after Brecht's lifetime. Brecht asked Gustaf Gründgens to direct, with set-design by Caspar Neher and music by Siegfried Franz. Hanna Hiob played Joan.


*Pierpont Mauler, the Meat King
*Cridle, a meat packer
*Joan Dark
*Martha, a Black Straw Hat
*Sally, a Black Straw Hat
*Paula Snyder, a major in the Black Straw Hats
*Jackson, a Black Straw Hat
*Graham, a meat packer
*Lennox, a meat packer
*Meyers, a meat packer
*Sullivan Slift, a broker and advisor to Mauler

Popular Culture References

* In Benoit Jacques' 2006 film, "Intouchable, L", the main character, Jeanne (Le Besco), relinquishes the lead role of "Saint Joan of the Stockyards" to find her father in India.

Works Cited

* Willett, John. 1959. "The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht: A Study from Eight Aspects." London: Methuen. ISBN 0413 34360 X.


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