January 01, 2008

Et Omnes sancti. Amen.

We decided to merge the final line in the dirge with the final stage direction to beat ‘the FRIARS’. After the final ‘Maledicat Dominus’, David pauses centre stage, holding the Friars with either arm. As he delivers his final line, Faustus and Mephistophilis pick Bibles off the dining table and flank the Friars on either side, then “wind” the Friars by jutting their knees into the stuffed t-shirts. David drops them on the floor. Faustus and Mephistophilis stamp on the Friars. Finally, after his ‘Amen’, Faustus and Mephistophilis mime smashing their Bibles into David’s face and he falls to the floor. We see Faustus and Mephistophilis about to “elbow drop” David as the lights cut to black. All smashes and falls were accompanied by drum beats from Leigh.

Maledicat Dominus.

Translated into English as, “May the Lord curse (him).”

[The FRIARS] sing this.

David intones each curse, then sings each ‘Maledicat Dominus’. As he does so he circulates the stage in the manner of a ceremonial procession, with the Cardinal ahead of him and the Friar behind. Tim, as Mephistophilis, pre-empts David’s path and mocks his walk, whilst Nikesh follows behind David as Faustus and dances to the tune of the dirge.

Enter all the FRIARS

David returns to the stage at this point as a Friar, now wearing a brown t-shirt and sporting an English accent. He holds both the t-shirts he previously carried.

“Bell, book and candle, candle book and bell”

The ritual for excommunication involved the ringing of a bell, the closing of the Bible and the putting out of the candle. Mephastophilis confuses it, however, with the ritual for exorcism.

Come on, Mephistophilis, what shall we do?

At this point, Faustus and Mephistophilis sit down at the dining table, put their feet up, and sate their appetites on the food and wine. The text gives few clues as to how Faustus and Mephistophilis react to the congregation running away, but we decided it was best to show them enjoying themselves and make Mephistophilis’ “Nay, I not” sarcastic. The final moments of the scene indicate that Faustus and Mephistophilis continue to dominate (and ruin) the feast when the Friars re-enter, and we decided to make their behaviour here anticipate this by showing them in complete, indulgent control of the proceedings.

FAUSTUS hits him a box of the ear

Given the relative difficulty and incumbent risks with any kind of stage violence, we decided that Faustus would lightly flick the Pope on the back of the head. The Pope’s resulting hysterics make him look more petty, cowardly and small-minded.

My Lord, it may be some ghost

The sale of papal indulgences for souls the dead in Purgatory was intended to shorten the amount of time one might spend in purgatory, and was heavily targeted as a criticism of the Church by Protestant reformers.

Dainty Dish

Although we initially considered styling the Pope after Benedict XVI, the script implies that Marlowe’s Pope is a gastronomic patriarch with tremendous pride. We therefore settled on a parody of Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone in The Godfather. The additional connotations of this parody – that the Pope is a morally corrupt and extravagant criminal with vast power – help to establish similar associations in our modern audience to those Marlowe’s Elizabethan audience would have had. These are vital to making the comedy effective: Faustus picking on a helpless and pious religious figure is sinister, whereas one set of devils besting another is funny.

Enter the POPE with the CARDINAL OF LORRAINE to the banquet, with FRIARS attending.

Our production is driven by one key idea: that the middle portion of the play is intended to be comic, and that this comedy, although ignored by the vast majority of productions, is key to Marlowe’s dramatic tapestry. The scenes have, however, dated immensely, and to revitalise their energy I choose to cast only three actors in the piece and therefore generate slapstick possibilities from the necessity of switching between parts in a single scene. This is most evident in the Pope Sc., in which David played the entire Papal congregation. Entering dressed as the Pope in a white shirt with stuffed stomach, he carried in either arm a stuffed t-shirt attached to a hanger, with a red t-shirt for the Cardinal and a brown t-shirt for the Friar. He seats the two t-shirts on chairs either side of the dining table, and takes the middle seat for himself. When the Friar or Cardinal speaks or acts, David stands up and positions his face above the relevant t-shirt and his hands by the sleeves, and acts towards the (now vacant) middle chair.

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