Pope Joan

Written by:

Banuta Rubess

Cast Size:


    Feminist Theatre




    120 min.

    Year Written:



    A non-historical comedy about the life and times of Pope Joan, the legendary female pope of the ninth century.


    POPE JOAN, our heroine. In the beginning she is a worldwise medieval waif, but turns into an accomplished politician. She ages throughout the play, but maintains a mischievous charm.

    ST. LIOBA, a successful abbess clad in an enormous white habit and halo. She is fiercely independent, and may even have an Irish twang as in the Nightwood production.

    ST. IDA, the successful mother, mistress and housewife all rolled into one; bedecked with ruffles and halo, her life is a poem to domesticity.

    REGIBALD (REG), “Mad Monk” Reg, JOAN’s father and missionary in a pagan land.

    MARTHA, an illiterate wet-nurse.

    ABBOT, an unctuous commentator.

    COUNT HIMMELPINK, a foppish member of the ruling class.

    DUKE VON X, a decrepit if not syphilitic landowner.

    MADAME DE BLAGUE, le dernier cri in fashion, a French noblewoman.

    GRISELDA, weepy daughter of DUKE VON X.

    MONKS, a collection of various characters, rascally and otherwise.

    NUNS, a predominantly mischievous bunch, preoccupied with monks.

    ST. BLITTRUDE, a stately yet very flustered abbess, reminiscent of the matrons in Marx Brothers movies. Played by a man in the Nightwood production.

    FRUMENTIUS (FRUM), a young monk tingling with lust, but easily embarrassed. Hang-dog-like and doe-eyed.

    CAPTAIN, of a slave boat. A salty seaman.

    MARIO,  the fast food vendor. A likeable Italian.

    MAROZIA, the harlot of Rome. The extremely powerful concubine of POPE LEO, she is languid and voluptuous.

    POPE LEO, the “boxer” pope, a tough guy in a dangerous business.

    CARDINAL ALBINO, Pope Leo’s brother, a whiny loser.

    ASSASSIN, the masked men.


    FLORUS, a mop of curls, Pope Leo’s sweet, illegitimate son, and secretary to Pope Joan.

    GOD, a voice over.

    First Produced:

    1984, Theatre Centre, Toronto


    Pope Joan is available through Borealis Book Publishers.

    To view other works by this playwright, click here.


    Visit the playwright’s website here.