Catherine de Baudoche

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Entry by Aurore Evain, 2003

Catherine de Baudoche commissioned and staged Le Jeu de Sainte Catherine de Sienne (The Play of Saint Catherine of Siena), in the free town of Metz in 1468. A pious upper class woman, she constructed a chapel dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena in the Dominican church where she herself was later buried. The play was staged in the courtyard of this church during the three days of Pentecost. Apart from the fact that a woman was the impetus for the performance, this event is worthy of attention since it concerns the earliest documented play devoted to a nearly contemporaneous saint. Catherine of Siena died in 1378 and was canonised in 1461, seven years before the play was shown. The choice of the play's subject, a female Italian mystic, a woman of letters, and a pacifist who was very active in the political and religious debates of her time, testifies to a feminine appropriation of the theatrical space: the stage here appears as a place in which a feminine discourse and a personal commitment at once spiritual, creative and political were evoked through the figure of a contemporary saint. This commitment is equally perceptible in the choice, still rare at the time, to cast a woman in the role of the saint -in this case a young woman whose performance was remarked upon and which won her a husband from the audience, Henri de Latour. The theatrical stage therefore facilitated the creation of female solidarity and social support networks. Catherine de Baudoche's involvement in the play at various stages of its development (commission of the topic, directing, acting) highlights the social and cultural stakes of female identification in the theatrical domain. (translated by Cathy McLive)

Catherine de Baudoche
Birth date after 1400
Death After 1468
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