Doctor Faustus

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The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus is a tragedy by Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593) [1].

The play is commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus.

The original text

Based on an old German tale about the character Faust, which tells of a man who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for power and knowledge. Many believe that Marlowe's play is based on a story taken from a popular 1592 translation, commonly called The English Faust Book.

The play was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe's death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play.

Translations and adaptations

An Afrikaans version of selected scenes from the play, purposely translated in a clumsy, ponderous Afrikaans forms the climactic event in André, Temple Hauptfleisch’s Afrikaans play about the seduction of an actor’s soul.

Performance history in South Africa

First produced in South Africa in 18**?*

1968: Presented by the Rhodes University Drama Department, produced by Guy Butler, with André de Villiers as Faustus; Don Maclennan as Mephistopheles; Christopher Weare as Robin; Sue Goddard as Helen; Rob Antonissen as Valdes and the Cardinal of Lorraine; Jean-Louis Cattaneo as Cornelius; Richard Miller; Marguerite Poland as Lechery; the devils and John Burch, Isobel Rennie and Beth Dickerson backstage.

1972: Performed by PACT, directed by Norman Coombes for PACT.

2008: In September it was the closing production of The Actor's Centre in Johannesburg. Directed by Steven Feinstein, the cast included Nick Boraine (Dr. Faustus), Kate Normington (Mephostopheles), Michele Maxwell (Beelzebub), Georgia McCallum-Brown (Lucifer), Kgomotso Christopher, Toni Morkel, Sean Redpath, Alex Radnitz, Giliam Winckler, Renos Spanoudes, Greg Melvill-Smith, Lindiwe Matshikiza and Juliette Jenner.


D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.203-205

Temple Hauptfleisch. 1985. André, Cape Town: Human en Rousseau.

Photographs of the cast (Rhodes, 1968 production) held by NELM: Photograph collection [Collection: Rhodes University. Drama Department]: 2006. 6. 4. 11.

The Star, 19 August 2008.

Tonight, 9 September 2008.

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