Doctor Faustus:
Selling One's Soul to the Devil

April 8-9, 2007

Perhaps no story is more compelling than the legend of Faust, who sold his eternal soul to the devil to gain vast temporal power and knowledge. The story has been told repeatedly, from Christopher Marlowe’s 1590s dramatization to the 1968 film with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (as Helen of Troy). Other versions include Goethe’s Faust (1806), Berlioz’s and Gounod’s operas (1840s, 1859), and the Broadway play Damn Yankees (1955).  Films include Bedazzled (1967, 2000) and the most recent variant, Ghost Rider (2007), based on the graphic novel.  

This seminar focuses on Marlowe’s play, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, first performed in the 1590s and believed to be the earliest dramatization of the Faust legend. The play survives in two versions, the 1604 (“A” text) and the 1616 (“B” text), and the seminar will examine textual issues and the decisions and choices made by the director and artistic staff in the production.

Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is an excellent play to teach to high-school students for the many pertinent questions it poses: What is the nature of damnation and salvation? Will Faustus repent? Can Faustus repent? What role does free will play in our lives? What is the relationship between supernatural temptation and coercion?  The seminar proposes to relate this great Elizabethan play to contemporary issues relevant to our culture today.

The combined artistic and scholarly expertise of the three faculty members leading this seminar will allow participants to explore dramatic issues on the page as well as theatrical issues on the stage. The first day’s seminar discussion will meet in the afternoon to serve as preparation for the performance. After a dinner break, participants will attend the opening-night performance (tickets are included) in the Decio Theatre in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. They will have the opportunity to congratulate the cast and crew backstage in the green room afterwards. The next day’s discussions, with a lunch break, will include the director of the production.
Anton Juan, Jesse Lander, and Mark Pilkinton
Tuesday, April 8: 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. and the evening performance at 7:30
Wednesday, April 9: 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4:00 p.m.
Participants in this seminar are invited to join the “Faust at Notre Dame” conference (April 17–19).


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