From the Author:
I first read and experienced Goethe’s Faust in German in 1981 when I went as an exchange student to Dornach, Switzerland, to work as a stagehand on the full, uncut production. It has been a companion ever since. I originally developed this story version at the request of the New York Branch of the Anthroposophical Society in 1999 in honor of the 250th anniversary of Goethe’s birth. By retelling the essential plot (condensed from over 24 hours of playing time) in a free rendering in English, I hope to bring a fresh life—a kind of artistic road map, if you will—to Goethe’s great poetic drama. I have tried to include all the main action and, in one instance, I have even added the events of a scene that Goethe envisioned, but never wrote.
A Note from the Editor:
Beat the Devil! has been performed in spaces ranging from intimate living rooms to Broadway-size stages and everything in between. Ideally there is plenty of performance space for the actor to move around a lot, but the staging can also be condensed.
The technical requirements are very simple. The actor rings a bell before beginning each of the four sections, ringing four times to begin the performance, then three, then two, then one, indicated by large asterisks in the script. He also drinks from a glass of water between each section.
An old-looking upright wooden chair or simple armchair, downstage left, becomes Faust's study and room. A stool or narrow table, behind the chair, holds the bell and the glass of water. A tree stump, stool or piano bench, upstage right, becomes a rock in the garden, a throne in the Emperor’s palace, laboratory paraphernalia, and a mountain. (A variety of objects have been used for this, including a hay bale and a stage-scenery rock.)
No lighting changes are necessary; general wash of light over the whole stage area is fine. (Some red down right for Mephistopheles’ asides and other colors and effects can be used creatively in venues where this is possible, but it’s not necessary.)