Next fall, the first quarter of my senior year, I have been assigned to work on the play Faustus by Rupert Goold and Ben Powers after Christopher Marlowe. Krissy Vanderwarker, the wonderful, limit-pushing Artistic Director of Dog and Pony Theatre here in Chicago, is the director. I had the chance to work with her on her first production at The Theatre School, After the End, and I am very excited to now get a chance to work on her thesis.
The play itself breathes life into an old legend. Using Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Goold and Powers create a story that is a paring down of the script Doctor Faustus intertwined with the story of the Chapman Brothers. Faustus follows brothers Jake and Dinos, popular YBA’s (Young British Artists) in 2001 as they purchase Francisco de Goya’s sketches The Disasters of War and proceed to paint over the faces of the war-stricken faces with puppies and clowns.
There is an overwhelming amount of dramaturgical material about this play (I am currently exploring three dramaturgical areas: the pre-Industrial world of Dr. Faustus, the lives and post-modern theory of the Chapman brothers, and how these two worlds are connected) and I am more than excited to jump in. I am happy to say that I was assigned an assistant, Mike Doyle, who has been excellent help thus far. Here is the email that I sent to him this morning concerning our first steps on the project:
From experience, I’ve learned that it’s often the most fruitful for a production and the process overall for the dramaturgs to attempt to tackle the “big question” from the very start. The “Big Question” being the largest, most all-encompassing thematic question or problem in the play. For Faustus, I believe it is this:
How can we make the relationship between the 2 worlds (that of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus and the Chapman Brother’s rectifications) symbiotic (that is, speaking to one another, as Krissy says), instead of redundant?
In order to figure out how these two worlds converse with each other, we must first have an understanding of them both.
Once we have an understanding of each, there are questions that I feel are important about the relationship between the both of them.
1. Who was in power at each time? Aka: What are Marlowe & the Chapman bothers reacting against? What world theories were dominant at the time of Insult to Injury? Dr. Faustus?
2. What was Marlowe’s inspiration for Faustus?
3. What was the Chapman brother’s inspiration?
4. What was Goya’s inspiration?
5. What were the cultural influences of both times?
6. How was religion treated by Marlowe, Chapmans & Goya?
7. How was art treated?
This list is by no means complete—we can add to it as we feel necessary. But you should start thinking about these questions (and feel free to add more) for our next meeting.
Brittany Jean Squier