Thursday, 23 July 2015

Faustian Dramaturgy: Richard McElvain @ Edfinge 2015

by Samantha de Manbey

An environmentalist makes a Faustian deal to trade her soul and save mankind

A cast of twenty one actors bring Dr Sarah Chris’s Faustian journey to life. A passionate environmental activist endlessly thwarted by the establishment in her efforts to end global warming, Dr Chris is driven to the brink and resorts to summoning the devil and enlisting hell’s help to save mankind. The price? Her soul.

Follow Dr Chris and Mephistopheles led by the Seven Deadly Sins questing to save us from ourselves. They meet international leaders, plead with the United Nations and manipulating corporate leaders dripping in self-interest. This epic journey leads to a confrontation with their ultimate Devil, greed.

C, venue 34

9-15 Aug 

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
How does this piece reflect the general work of the company?
Richard McElvain: The play is written by an alum of our theatre program who has gone on to become a playwright. She remembers a History of the Theatre class when we were discussing Marlowe's Dr. Faustus when I asked the question what would you sell your soul for? A tough question to answer with any response but "nothing". 

Samantha, a very bright student pointed out how Faustus squandered his deal by asking for frivolous things. She posited the idea of selling your soul for some altruistic reason. 

This was the germination of FAUSTED where the central character, a contemporary passionate environmentalist after endless frustration with inaction sells her soul to stop global warming. She showed rough drafts a year ago and we have been work shopping it ever since going through copious rewrites.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production? 

We hope they laugh a lot and leave terrified.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
The relevance should be evident. This is a serious question facing the population of the world. Some are working hard about it. Many are shockingly apathetic. Some are inexplicably denying it. As events unfold the playwright is trying to keep it absolutely up to date. We recently put in a scene with Pope Francis.

What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work - have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
The play is kind of Marlow mashed with Ibsen and Miller plus Saturday Night Live.

Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
As I said we have done many readings and gotten feedback from actors and other directors and cherry picked what we think will grow it further. I don't doubt we will still be developing it as we are performing it at The Fringe.

The Fitchburg State University Theatre Programme is an award-winning Professional Theatre Training Program in Fitchburg Massachusetts, USA. Focusing on both stage and film acting they work closely with the FSU Film/Video program, one of the largest such programs in New England. Graduates have gone on to professional placement in American theatre, film and to some of the most prestigious graduate programs in the United States, including University of Southern California, Circle in the Square and Catholic University.

This is FSU’s sixth year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe following their 2012 smash hit Romeo and Juliet.


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