A new Globe Theatre production exploring the life of Joan of Arc will see the legendary French heroine made into a non-binary character.
The historical figure is known for fearlessly leading the French in battles against English soldiers in the Hundred Years War, and is traditionally depicted as a woman.
Theatre bosses say the play, I, Joan, will “offer the possibility of another point of view” when it arrives later this month.
The lead role will be played by Isobel Thom, who also uses the pronouns “they/them” and the script has been altered to change the pronouns of the French patron saint.
“For centuries, Joan has been a cultural icon portrayed in countless plays, books, films, etc,” said Michelle Terry, artistic director of The Globe.
“History has provided countless and wonderful examples of Joan portrayed as a woman.
“This production is simply offering the possibility of another point of view.
“That is the role of theatre: to simply ask the question ‘imagine if?’.”
She added: “Theatres produce plays, and in plays, anything can be possible.
“Shakespeare did not write historically accurate plays. He took figures of the past to ask questions about the world around him.
“Shakespeare was not afraid of discomfort, and neither is the Globe.”
A statement on The Globe’s website affirmed that it was “committed to becoming an inclusive and diverse organisation” willing to make “necessary change”.
“We aim to create a culture and environment in which everyone’s experience at Shakespeare’s Globe is equal, inclusive, and equitable,” it said.
I, Joan is set to run from August 25 to October 22.