The story of Doctor Faustus is a familiar myth, in which the main character sells his soul , makes a deal with the devil, for something he speciously holds more valuable. There are many versions of this story in our culture, and it would take quite a time to make note of them all. Most people will have seen or heard one of the various stories in the for of a book, play, movie, or television show. The original story of Doctor Faustus, as created by Christopher Marlow, was prevalent to society at the time because it spoke to people’s growing dizzy awareness of their possibilities and capabilities at this time.
By that explanation it seems that the classic Marlow play, Doctor Faustus, would also be a hit because in the countries of the world there are many a growing multicultural society, for whom there are continually growing possibilities and capabilities. This is also a similar state of affairs for how one might perceive the women’s movement, as women are gaining more equality inside and outside o f the workplace. Also, for society as a whole, one is being exposed to the ever growing world of computers and the world wide web.
The largest and most significant change I would make in an attempt to adapt Doctor Faustus so that it would be more engineered towards to today’s audience is that I would make Doctor Faustus a Dr. Faustesse. I would make an attempt to portray the main character Faustus, as a women, Faustesse, in an attempt to update the concerns for which the play represents. By having a female character fall to the devil to gain power over society it symbolizes and signifies the constant struggle of women, even in today’s society, to get past the very patriarchal dominated social structures and institutions and inequalities.
That Dr. Faustesse is an educated women also represents the good of the changing such that it is a normal state of affairs for a female to have gone through an immense amount of schooling , which used to me more common for only males, and that she as a female has a variety of opportunities open to her, even though none satisfy Faustesse, and that is the reason she makes a pact with the devil in first place.
In order to complete the adaptation of the play to today’s standards, keeping in mind the main character is a female, and in an attempt to involve the audience in what is going on both metatheatrically and thematically in the play, there a few scenes in particular which I would highlight to get some newly made effects and concepts of the story across more effectively. One scene I would highlight is act 1, scene 3. This is the scene where Faustesse sets out the terms of her pact with the devil. I would highlight this part for a number of reasons. First off, Faustesse jumps when she first sees Mephostophilis.
I feel this is a very important aspect of the play because in one moment it shows a theme which is as prevalent at the end of the play as much as it is at the beginning. When Faustesse jumps at the sight of the Devil and orders him back in a different shape it shows that maybe she is not necessarily ready to take on the Devil to get what she wants, and that Hell and other such things in the same league are not really what Faustesse is looking for to solve her problems, and that such experiences are not really suited to her, and this is seen at the end, as Faustesse’s time draws to and end and she tries to look towards God to help.
Another reason I would highlight this part of the play is because this scene where Faustesse decides that she is going to bargain with the devil and sell her soul for power, where she bargains the contract under which she will sell her soul is the basis of the play itself, and sets the stage for the rest of the play. Since Faustesse is a female, it expresses the limit to which Faustesse is willing to go to so that she may no longer be oppressed, as a women and a scholar, in a still very patriarchal society.
This one scene shows the extent too which she will go to gain power in society and can be looked upon as a generalization to the whole female population as needing to continue to move forward and hold power in society. However, as we see throughout the play, Dr. Faustesse does not use the power in the numerous productive ways for which it could have been used. In the case of either a male of female Faustus, there is the opportunity to do great things with the power acquired.
With a female Faustesse, she has the power to attain a new level of female achievement, and change societal views of women inevitably, yet instead of doing this, or something similarly productive or worthwhile , Faustesse wastes her time playing tricks. Since the whole basis of this concept, and the power which Faustesse hold originates in the scene where Faustesse first bargains her soul, Act 1 Scene3, I would make it a point to bring out this opening event. Another scene I plan to focus on is when Lucifer calls up the seven deadly sins.
I would like to place emphasis on this scene not so much to emphasize any thematic significance it may contain relative to the plot, but rather to use it as a scene of artistic expression, especially costumewise, in which I will reconnect with the audience of the play through the costumes and characters presented as the several deadly sins, and this I believe will help to lessen the drastic differences between this play when it was written, and the modern play which will be being performed.
In the scene where Lucifer is introducing the seven deadly sins I plan to have very unique costuming for each of the scenes. In an attempt to familiarize the audience with the seven deadly sins I will have each of the sins look like a former Hollywood star. The star for each sin will be someone who the audience recognizes, and whom the audience would have attributed the traits which the sin implies, to that Hollywood persona.
For example lechery (lust) would be represented by a character dressed as Marilyn Monroe, where as gluttony may be represented as Brian Wilson (member of the Beach Boys who stayed in bed for an extended period of time), and gluttony would be represented by a character looking like some actor such as John Candy or Chris Farley, who are known not only for their extra large size, but also for their indulgent behaviors.
Other characters in the play will be dressed in a modern styles, particularly Dr. Faustesse and Mephistopholis. Dr. Faustesse will be wearing a women’s suit, one which could be described as a power suit by today’s standards, with power suit describing the stylish dress of today’s corporate working women, and the tailored suits in which they wear. As Faustesse’s life moves through out the play, the suit will gradually progress to less dress and professional clothes, such as a fitting sweater and pants, and then gradually less professional, such as baggy old jeans or sweat pants, and a sweat shirt.
This clothing scheme for Dr. Faustesse will symbolize hew move away from the professional world which she had at her fingertips at the beginning of the play, and away from the ability to positively use her power, towards a slob appearance at the end, as through the years, she has become no longer professional and has fallen into the habit of only playing tricks, using her power for silly reasons, to the point that looking like a slob she inters hell at the end.
By Faustesse looking like a slob when she is taken off to hell at the end, also symbolizes the struggle of women because in order to be accepted in the professional world one must not only be skilled and able to act professionally, but must also fit a certain image of how they are supposed to look to be accepted.
Mephistopholis Will be dressed first as an ugly grotesque creature, until Faustesse tells him to come back in a different form, at which point he will appear dressed as a well to do man, in a designer suit, for the rest of the play, until he returns to take Faustesse to hell, at which point he will not be a human presence, but rather a red spotlight, with words reverberating around the theater as he speaks the words “fools that will laugh on earth, often weep in hell” This is to bring out the metatheatrical meaning of what he is saying, and to add importance to that passage, and more importantly, that line.
I plan on using a circular stage, but one in which only half the stage is visible to the audience, who are seated from one side of half the stage to the other side of the half stage. The back half of the stage would be shielded by a curtain. There are a variety of reasons why I would choose to use the half stage as the stage for the performance of this modern day version of the play.
First of all, with only half of the stage being visible, it is representative of Faustesse’s personality, where at the beginning she only thinks about the physical and the present, such as what she would do with the magic power in the present, as in what tricks she plans on playing, and she does not think about the future,, neither in what she may do in her future, or about what a future of eternity in hell really means, she simply doesn’t comprehend such an everlasting idea.
Another feature of the stage will be that it wills lowly rotate, such that at the end of the play the stage will have turned 18o degrees so that the audience is not viewing the opposite side of the stage from when the play first started out. The idea presented behind the rotating stage is that as the stage is turning the years are passing, representing the time frame of 24 ears in which the play takes place. Also, as the stage slowly progresses and turns for ward time, we begin to se Faustesse future which was formerly covered in darkness at the beginning of the play, and we begin to see what Dr. Faustesse future reveals.
When at the end of the play the stage has completed its turn, it is symbolic of how Faustesse has reached the end of her physical life, and has in fact, with only her soul to forever live on in eternal damnation. The stage is no longer moving, and physical time is no longer moving forth either. Although it may make coherent sense to compliment the moving stage with scenery changing over time, I however would choose to have the same standard scene as the background for all Faustesse scenes.
Using the same background scene would represent that although time has passed, and times outside of Faustesse have been changing, she herself has still not matured past the reverie of the power she was given for anything but trickery, and so despite any smarts attained during her initial education, has hence not grown intellectually at all for she has not used her power for any productive reasoning. Thus, I feel, the stagnantbackground will for that reason accurately represent the non-existent change of Dr. Faustesse, even over and throughout a physical conception of time.
One feature of the play which I feel will add a general feeling to the play is that of music and sound effects. I would use very disharmonic sound effects throughout the play. I think that this would help to empathize and draw out the disharmony of the play itself, and the idea of being torn between heaven and hell, as Faustesse very much is. Also, disharmonious sounds would leave the audience feeling confused, anxious, and unsure, which is how I believer they are supposed to feel throughout the play, while Faustesse is wasting away her power on silly tricks.
One musical addition I would make for the play is that of introducing the chorus as a musical number. Whenever the chorus is meant to speak, instead there will be a musical number in which the lines of the chorus are the lyrics of the song instead. This will also contribute to the disharmony and discord, by having a song break out where it is somewhat inappropriate and least expected. Through all these methods I think that the play will be more effective to todays audience.
By heightening the emotion of the play itself, I believe the play will be more acute for today’s audience, who have been exposed to countless emotions through the expansion of the movie industry, and have therefor become somewhat immune to a certain amount of emotion. Also, I believe that by bringing up to date certain costumes, staging, and musical aspects for the play, the play itself will be richer and more authentic, hence able to reach the modern day audience more effectively.
Completing this update, I feel, is the introduction of the women lead, playing the part of Faustesse, as this will symbolize many issues of societal struggles that have been prevalent in society in the near past, and will continue to be in the near future. For these reasons, and variety of changes, I feel that this is how the play Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlow, should be updated to reach an acceptable modern standard for theatrical productions.