Ethan Barbour ’18
A pompous scholar, a lustful and pregnant duchess, a malevolent demon, and some well-placed black-light paint all make up the comedic, yet sinister play by Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus.
Whenever talking to someone about the Walker Fine Arts Building I always joke that my
true bedroom is not back on dorm, yet in the arts building. During this winter at Woodberry, that statement could not have been truer. In the past few weeks I spent countless hours working in the Arts building on Doctor Faustus and despite the nonstop work schedule between classes, rehearsal, and design work, I would not trade the experience for anything in the world. The time spent working alongside Mr. O’Sullivan, Mrs. Bertaux, and the rest of the cast taught me so many things that will not only help me within the Drama Department at Woodberry but also with life beyond Woodberry.
Aside from helping with the technical aspects of the show I had the great pleasure of playing Mephastophilis on stage alongside my great friend, Josh Staufenberg ’18 who played Dr. Faustus. The sinister demon, Mephastophilis, is by far my favorite character that I have played on the Woodberry stage thus far. Mephastophilis is a sadist in the truest sense of the word, making him incredibly fun and interesting to play because he is so unlike myself. It was very difficult at first to step inside his skin because he is so different than I am, but after a lot of hard work and help from Mr. O’Sullivan, Mrs. Bertaux, Mr. Cirves, and the rest of the cast, I was able to create the sexy, deceptive, devilish character that is Mephatophilis.
The true challenge of Faustus was to make it relevant and meaningful to a modern audience, a challenge that the entire cast and crew worked hard to surpass. In the words
Mr. O’Sullivan, “Ultimately, this play is not about devils, or hell, or conjuring. It is a tragedy of the failure of imagination, and the failure of empathy.” Our goal as a cast was to show the audience that it doesn’t much to start on a slippery slope. We wanted to inspire them to not make the same mistakes as Faustus and to live lives “openly,” “imaginatively,” and “empathetically,” something everyone should strive to do, especially in today’s hate-filled environments.
Aside from a life lesson, this show stands for something much greater inside the Woodberry community. Dr. Faustus represents a springboard from which future experimental plays will be able to launch from. This play pushed the envelope and the boundaries of what had been previously performed at Woodberry, a trend I hope will continue in future productions.