The Passion Project 2008
What Beauty there is in Mr. Farrington’s work. Like Dreyer’s film it is both luminous and cruel.”
– Claudia La Rocco New York Times
"What Beauty there is in Mr. Farrington’s work. Like Dreyer’s film it is both luminous and cruel.”
– Claudia La Rocco The New York Times
“THE PASSION PROJECT should not be watched, it should be entered into. After all, it is an act of devotion.”
– Helen Shaw Time Out New York
“It was magical, and sinister, and strange – one of the most satisfying theatrical experiences I’ve had in ages. We are seduced by the grandeur of the original even as Farrington shatters it.” – Claudia La Rocco Culturists WNYC blog
“Now, through a complex dance between computer and human that involves some 300 cues for Nicoll to follow, Farrington rescues the legendary saint from the flames once again.” -Brian Lynch The Georgia Straight
2012 - Colby College Waterville, ME
2011- Contemporary Drama Festival - Budapest, HungaryJanuary
2010 – PuSh Festival @ Pacific Theater – Vancouver, BCOctober
2009 – 3LD Art & Technology CenterJanuary
2009 – COIL Festival @ 3LD Art & Technology CenterSeptember
2008 – New York Premiere @Performance Space 122
2008 – Work Shop @ 3LD Art & Technology Center
2007 – World Premiere PS/K2 Festival – Copenhagen, Denmark
Directed by Reid Farrington
Performed by Jadelynn Stahl (2007 – 2008) Shelley Kay (2008 – 2009) Laura K. Nicoll (2009 – Present)
Artists involved: Sara Jeanne Asselin, Janet D. Clancy, Austin Guest, Stephen O’Connell.
Research made possible by The Danish Film Institute and Casper Tybjerg
Carl Th. Dreyer’s immortal classic The Passion of Joan of Arc is known as the last great silent film. It is an artifact that has endured a similar fate as the woman the film portrays. It remains one of the most fascinating portraits of emotion ever captured on film.
Dreyer released this film in 1928. The master negative was lost to fire that same year. This forced Dreyer to release a second film cut from his outtakes. This negative was lost to fire in 1935. Many “bastardized” prints circulated around Europe and the United States until in 1980, a print believed to be from the master negative, was found in a broom closet of a mental institution in Oslo, Norway.
On stage The Passion Project is a performance installation forty minutes in length. The film is used as the genesis for a projection environment. This environment captures the close quarter combat between Joan and her interrogators. It explodes the film into the three dimensions; placing the audience inside the film, sitting next Joan, subjecting them to the relentless rhythm of 35 mm film projection.
The Passion Project speaks to the ephemeral nature of film. The images from Dreyer’s masterpiece float in air. These images are caught on frames stretched with parchment and organized by the single female performer. This performer recreates the spatial relationship between the actors in the film when they were originally shot. This creates a series of moving portraits of performers from the past.
The Passion Project evokes questions about performance as entertainment or living sculpture. It is an event that must been seen in a specific time, from beginning to end, however each fleeting moment is a complex organization of multiple images from the film. The images engage each other and are unaware of the audience. It is the single female performer who guides these images and the audience.
The Passion Project is a portrait of Maria Falconnetti, the actress who portrays Joan. The Passion of Joan of Arc was Falconetti’s only film. Falconetti is returned to life on a separate projection screen that is moved in the projection environment. This screen is filled with a moving portrait of her uninterrupted image lifted from the film and compressed into a single time line. This portrait of Joan is the meter for the piece. All other images and characters have been orchestrated around this meter. The performer moves the projected image of Falconetti through the environment, making her emotional journey palpable. The performer’s conflict is her inability to stop the film’s chain of events, which lead Falconetti to Joan’s inevitable death on the pyre.
The Passion Project is also an archival piece. With the support the Danish Film Institute and Casper Tybjerg, the leading Dreyer scholar from the University of Copenhagen, this project includes every frame of film still in existence connected to The Passion of Joan of Arc. Dreyer’s film has been dissected frame by frame, revealing his film making process.
The Passion Project pulls from three different prints of the film. The Oslo print: found in 1980 in Norway, the Lo Duca print: a print reedited in Paris, France in 1957, and the Krog print, edited by Carl Dreyer in 1938. No techniques such as looping and speed changes are used, but rather the different takes from each version of the film extend the presence of these ghostly performers from the past.
The Passion Project explores the intersection of performance and film using a compressed timeline of Dreyer’s film as the main narrative rhythm. This rhythm intersects the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, and Joan’s story: her trial, torture, and execution.