Chico State's Department of Music and Theatre Stage Production of 'Doctor Faustus,' October 15-20
Side-bar: Sandra Barton's 'Doctor Faustus' Costumes will Amaze You!
CSU, Chico’s School of the Arts summons Lucifer and demons just in time for Halloween in its fall theatre production of “Doctor Faustus.”
Presented October 15-19 at 7:30 p.m. and October 19-20 at 2 p.m. in CSU, Chico’s Wismer Theatre, “Doctor Faustus” promises to be a rollercoaster ride of a show. Bursting with demons, darkness and desires, and full of interesting characters, from Lucifer to incarnations of the seven deadly sins, “Doctor Faustus” is a bit scary, a bit funny, and very thoughtful.
Director Katie Whitlock, who last directed Chico State’s production of “The Arabian Nights,” describes the show as “great fun,” and adds that it, “deals with the darkness of the human soul while also being full of comedic moments.”
“Doctor Faustus” was written by Christopher Marlowe in the early 1590’s and was first published in 1604. Although the play wasn’t published until eleven years after Marlowe’s death, “Doctor Faustus” was staged twenty-five times from 1594 to 1597 and was considered a very successful and popular piece. The play’s text is a common reference for theatre, literature and design even today.
The story of “Doctor Faustus” follows Faustus, a scholar driven by ambition and pride, as his desire for ultimate knowledge drives him to make a deal with Lucifer. Faustus signs away his soul in blood for twenty-four years of service from Lucifer and his demons.
Armed with his newfound powers and knowledge and accompanied Mephistopheles, one of Lucifer’s demons, Faustus travels the world. For the better part of twenty-four years, he plays tricks and wrecks havoc from Rome to Germany to Italy. But as his deal draws to a close, Faustus is overcome with dread about his impending death. In the end, Faustus feels remorse for his actions and begs Lucifer and his demons for mercy, but is it too late?
The production showcases senior theatre major Brittany Siguenza as Faustus and senior theatre minor Xander Ritchey as Mephistopheles. Both actors were last seen on the CSU stage in “The Arabian Nights.” The cast also includes Erin Duffey and Veronica Hodur as the Good Angel and the Evil Angel, and newcomer Anthony Varicelli as Lucifer.
“As an actor it has been a challenge adopting the circumstances of Faustus and realizing the detrimental deal I make with the devil,” said Siguenza. “I have an amazing cast and crew that are creating a fun world to play in and I'm looking forward to sharing this story of Dr. Faustus with the rest of the community.”
The set of “Doctor Faustus,” designed by student Amelia Bransky, is evocative of a crossroads and a graveyard and is both intimate and amorphous. Presented in Wismer Theatre, Chico State’s “black box” theatre, the space will allow the audience to experience the story in an interactive fashion.
With choreography by faculty member Sheree Henning, who last choreographed dance numbers for the 2013 Spring Musical, “The Music Man,” the production will feature modern dance movements inspired by a range of styles to contribute to the “demon landscape” of the set.
Costume designer Sandra Barton has incorporated both classical shapes and voodoo aspects into the costumes. Masks will also be used to transform the actors into the production’s “version of demons from hell.”
“This play is a challenge,” said Whitlock. “For the actors, the designers, the technicians…everyone has discovered something different and exciting to make this work come to life.”
For her adaption of “Doctor Faustus,” Whitlock has chosen to re-gender some of the characters. The role of Faustus, along with some other traditionally male characters, has been cast as a female. The piece has also been relocated from late 16th century Europe to a more contemporary world influenced by Southern Gothic style and blues music alike.
“Overall, this is a show with spectacle and soul blended into one unique evening,” Whitlock said.
“Doctor Faustus” has a little something for everybody. Lovers of Renaissance plays will enjoy seeing Marlowe’s work staged while Humanities students can use it as a discussion tool.
“Just about any Humanities discipline can find something relatable in the tale of a woman who sells her soul to know more of the unknowable,” Whitlock said.
This show may not be appropriate for everyone, however. The play contains mature subject matter and religious arguments that may be uncomfortable for some. “Doctor Faustus” is recommended for ages 13 and up.
Advance tickets, at $15 general, $13 senior citizens, and $6 students/children, are available at the University Box Office located at the corner of Third and Chestnut Streets. Tickets are also available online or by phone, (530) 898-6333; additional $4 handling fee for phone and online ticket purchases. Add $2 for tickets purchased at the door. For special needs seating, please call (530) 898-6333.
Photo Caption: CSU, Chico's production of "Doctor Faustus" will feature lots of ghouls, demons and other creepy characters. Pictured here is Xander Richey as Mephistophles, Brittany Siguenza as Doctor Faustus" and two of the demon characters. Photo by Sean Chen.
Press release by Anne Stanley, School of the Arts Publicity Assistant.