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Shakespeare & Originals Theatre Company Preview: New Translation of Faust Takes a Fresh Approach

April 20, 2004 - Durham, NC:


Shakespeare & Originals Theatre Company will present the world premiere of Triangle playwright Michael A. Smith's new translation and adaptation of Faust by German literary giant Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Shakespeare & Originals, under the direction of Jay O'Berski, will perform this new drama April 20-24 in Pittsboro, NC and April 27-May 1 in Durham, NC.

O'Berski writes, "For this classic deal-with-the-devil story, we've chosen two haunting, nontraditional spaces: a vast textile mill and a cavernous former boxing gym. Michael A. Smith, S & O's playwright-in-residence and a fluent German speaker, has shaped Goethe's literary masterpiece into a driving, passionate love story. Faust, a dispirited, angst-filled scholar, is led by a cunning demon, Mephistopheles, into a wide world of chaos and corruption. In an effort to win Faust's soul, Mephistopheles brokers a love affair with a pious pauper girl, Margaret. Their star-crossed passion is the heart of this tragedy."

In addition to director Jay O'Berski, the Faust production team will include Robert Stromberg (settings), Donovan Zimmerman (puppets), Lissa Brennan (costumes), and Rick Lonon (original music). Zimmerman is one of the guiding geniuses of Paperhand Puppet Intervention.

The show's cast includes Lissa Brennan, Flynt Burton, Sarah Erickson, Byron Jennings II, Garrett Love, Tom Marriott, Michael O'Foghludha, Nicole Quenelle, Lucius Robinson, Adam Sampieri, and Lance Waycaster.

"[Faust] is rich in wonderful contradictions and conflicts," writes Washington State University English professor Paul Brians in his study guide for this classic drama. "Faust: A Tragedy is the title given his masterpiece by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Yet it might almost as easily be described as a musical comedy, in that it has many comic passages, features many songs, and lacks a tragic ending. Faust himself is not a classic tragic figure either. In fact, his characteristic yearning for experience and knowledge created a type for the romantic age still known as the Faustian hero, though he can easily seem more of a villain than a hero; and the purported villain Mephistopheles is one of the most likable characters in the play. His yearnings draw him toward the heavens, yet he is also powerfully attracted to the physical world. The book was designed to be read rather than performed, yet many scenes are wonderfully designed for effective stage presentation."

Shakespeare & Originals Theatre Company presents Faust Tuesday-Saturday, April 20-24, at 8 p.m. at Chatham Mills, 480 Hillsboro St. (U.S. 15-501), Pittsboro, North Carolina, and Tuesday- Saturday, April 27-May 1, at 8 p.m. at 111 E. Parrish St., Durham, North Carolina. $12. E-mail jayoberski@yahoo.com for reservations. Shakespeare & Originals Theatre Company: http://www.newfrequency.org/faust.htm. Study Guide for Goethe's Faust: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/hum_303/faust.html [inactive 8/04].