Jump to navigation Jump to search

Faust the character

Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend (based on the historical Johann Georg Faust - c. 1480–1540); a highly successful scholar, but also one dissatisfied with his life, who therefore makes a deal with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Faust's tale is the basis for a large number of literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical works.

(For more on versions of the Faust legend, see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faust)

Faust on stage

Plays and comic puppet theatre loosely based on this legend were popular throughout Germany in the 16th century, often reducing Faust and Mephistopheles to figures of vulgar fun. The two most famous straight stage versions are Christopher Marlowe's The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus (better known simply as Doctor Faustus) and Goethe's Faust. There are also a number of more serious operas, ballets and films on the theme, including the opera Faust by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré (see below). Burlesque or pastiche versions of it include the popular Faust et Marguerite by Michel Carré (1819-1872)[1].

Discussed below are those plays specifically known by the title Faust, and that have been performed in South Africa at one time or another.

Faust a verse tragedy by Goethe

The original text

In Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's reworking of the story 200 years after Marlowe, Faust becomes a dissatisfied intellectual who yearns for "more than earthly meat and drink". (Faust in Wikipedia[2]). Usually known in English as Faust, Part One and Faust, Part Two, it is rarely performed as a whole. Nevertheless, the play is widely regarded as Goethe's magnum opus and is usually cited as the greatest work of German literature.

Translations and adaptations of Goethe's play

Goethe's German version has translated into English prose and verse by numerous authors over the years (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goethe%27s_Faust).

A fragment ("Toneel in die gevangenis", i.e. "scene in the jail") of a translation into Afrikaans by D.F. Malherbe was published in Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, 7(4):7-13, 1957

A translation of Parts One and Two was done by W.J. Erlank, the text being performed in Stellenbosch in 1966 and being published by Nasionale Boekhandel in the same year.

Performances of Goethe's Faust in South Africa

Though seldom performed in its entirety, parts of Goethe's version have often been done in South Africa.

1980: Faust (Part One) opened at the Nico Malan Theatre on 14 October 1980, directed by Dieter Reible, with Michael Atkinson, Diane Wilson, Elizabeth Archer, Percy Sieff among the large cast. Decor and costumes by Raimond Schoop, lighting by Pieter de Swardt. The translation into English by Philip Wayne was used.

1966: A production of Parts One and Two Faust was performed in the Afrikaans version by W.J. Erlank, was done by the Drama Department of Stellenbosch University for the opening of the H.B. Thom Theatre in Stellenbosch in 1966. It was directed by Fred Engelen, assisted by Rina la Grange, set design by Keith Anderson, costume design by Elaine Aucamp, choreography by Libby van Blerk, lighting and sound design by Fred Engelen, songs by Jan Bouws, organ music and improvisations by Boudewijn Scholten, Production management by Emile Aucamp, Stage Manangement by Pieter de Swardt. The cast consisted of professionals, departmental staff and students and included Siegfried Mynhardt as Mephistopheles, Pieter Bredenkamp as Faust, Fred Stephens as Wagner, Tine Balder as Margaretha and Rina Botha as Martha. others who would later become prominent in the theatre included Pieter Joubert, Gretchen Holzapfel, Herman Pretorius, Johan Esterhuizen, Mees Xteen, Charles Fryer, John Cartwright, Rita Sierts-Ehlers, Woutrine Theron, Rahila Steyn, Annalize van der Ryst, W. Laurie.

In 197* the University of Pretoria did an Afrikaans version of the play, directed by Louw Odendaal with Ben Kruger as Faust.

Faust an opera by Gounod

The original text

This opera in five acts was composed by Charles Gounod, with a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. The general plot is taken from Carré's play Faust et Marguerite, which is in turn loosely based on Goethe's Faust, Part One. The opera premiered at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris on 19 March 1859.

Performances of Gounod's operatice version of Faust in South Africa

South African adaptations of the Faust myth

Faustus in Africa

A notable South African reworking of the myth is Faustus in Africa by William Kentridge and the Handspring Puppet Company (1995). The script combines section of Part One and fragments of Part Two from ** Bulgakov’s The Master and Magrita and new material by the South African poet Iesega Rampotokeng, so that the idealism of Goethe’s Faust is tested against the more earthy materialism of South Africa. The legend of Faust is based on the story of the sixteenth-century learned scholar who squandered his fortune and then sold his soul to the devil in exchange for additional time to search for the meaning of existence through travel and indulgences. After making his pact with the devil, Handspring’s Faustus goes on a safari. Indulging in elaborate feasts and buying sprees, Faustus attempts to consume all that Africa has to offer. Transposed to Africa his desires become those of the archetypal greedy colonialist – his victims the African people and their land.

It was first performed at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown 1995 by Handspring Puppet Company, directed by William Kentridge and using an integration of film animation, actors and puppets. It then toured to Germany and other parts of the world.

Creative Team: Production: Handspring Puppet Company in association with The Market Theatre, Art Bureau (Munich), Kunstfest (Weimar), the Standard Bank National Arts Festival, The Foundation for the Creative Arts, and Mannie Manim Productions. Director: William Kentridge; Design: Adrian Kohler, William Kentridge; Animation: William Kentridge, with assistant animator: Hiltrud von Seydlitz; Additional text: Lesego Rampolokeng. Lighting design: Mannie Manim ; Sound design: Wilbert Schubel Music: James Phillips, Warrick Sony; Costumes: Hazel Maree, Hiltrud von Seydliz. Cast: Dawid Minnaar, Leslie Fong,Busi Zokufa, Louis Seboko, Antoinette Kellermann, Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler. Performances: 1995 South Africa, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, UK, Portugal, Australia, Belgium, Israel, Denmark, Austria, France, Spain, Italy, USA






Programmes: Faust, H.B. Thom Theatre, 7 October, 1966;

Nico Malan Theatre October 1980.

Kruger, 1997.

Return to

Return to F in Plays 1 Original SA Plays

Return to F in Plays 2 Foreign Plays

Return to South_African_Theatre/Plays

Return to Main Page