Heroine's story of faith lives on honoring Joan of Arc
By Mary Kaye Ritz
Advertiser Religion & Ethics Writer
By Mary Kaye Ritz
Daniela Paluselli walked the walk before embarking on her journey to bring the tortured last night of Joan of Arc's life to the stage.
She ventured to Rouen, France, where St. Joan was burned at the stake, strolling the grounds where she was held before her death, mounting the steps of her prison. In return, Paluselli gained a patron.
"When I touched the walls, I knew for sure she is never going to leave me," said Paluselli, a physicist.
Paluselli will pay homage to Joan by performing a one-act monologue, "Joan of Arc: The Night Before ... " at the Lili'u Theatre.
Paluselli, who grew up and studied in Italy, earned a Ph.D. and did post-doctoral work at the University of Hawai'i, where she would also return to her love of theater, a love borne in grade school.
When she was about 10 years old, her school in Ciampino, her hometown on the outskirts of Rome, held a recital.
"It was pandemonium," Paluselli recalled — Italian mothers scolding their children, students tossing paper airplanes.
But when she did her speech, a hush came over the crowd.
"I realized I had some inclination."
In Hawai'i, she performed several times at Kennedy Theatre on the UH-Manoa campus, but this is her first time performing at the theater in the Hawai'i Convention Center — a venue chosen because it reminded Paluselli of a Greco-Roman amphitheater.
It's the first time this monologue has been presented onstage anywhere. It was written by a friend from Italy.
Paluselli said she appreciated the lyrical quality of the writing, and the story of faith spoke to her.
"This monologue is not monotone," she said. "A lot happens."
In the course of telling Joan's story, Paluselli came to appreciate that the illiterate teenage girl, who helped rid France of its English oppressors, was not a victim, but ultimately a woman of unimaginable strength.
"She was able to lift out of fear, by considering the nobility of her purpose," Paluselli said. "She did what she had to do. ... She comes to terms with not being a leaf in the wind of destiny, but she's there of her own choice."
The night of the show was picked because it falls on the 575th anniversary of Joan's death.
Joan was burned alive at the Old Market Place in Rouen, France, on the morning of May 30, 1431.
In Hawai'i, the monologue is to end, not coincidentally, around the hour when Joan died.