Color me "Faustus"

by Guest Blogger

By guest blogger Isabel Carey '12

Acting in Faustus, running through April 9 on the Mainstage at Loeb Drama Center, has reminded me of the importance of adaptability and flexibility in both rehearsal and performance. Faustus is my first major adapted script here at Harvard. Not handed a final script at the beginning of the process, I’ve instead worked with our director, Ilinca Radulian '11, to develop my character -- a servant to the devil and Faustus’ lover -- through countless textual revisions. As Ilinca focused on the overall conceptual arch, I worked to maintain the integrity of my own story line. An unexpectedly difficult task given the extent of Ilinca’s reimagining, I’ve enjoyed exploring the unique role of the actor as an active collaborator on the structure of a theater piece.

However, two months of script restructuring and textual discussion could not prepare me for performing alongside the production’s two primary technical elements: paint and water. The set features a water-moat around a center platform and a floor that is coated in paint by the middle of the first act. When working with such volatile elements, every scene becomes a new exploration of the environment. Blocking that worked during the final dress rehearsal often no longer applies: My fellow actors and I must constantly reassess our actions to avoid loss of life and limb.

Ultimately, the appeal of my textual restructuring of the piece to an audience or the success of my navigation of this unpredictable space depends only on how actively I confront these challenges in performance every night. Although mentally and physically exhausting, I wouldn’t do live theater if I couldn’t perform something different every time. Faustus requires me to stay in the moment of every performance or risk falling off the stage. It adds an element of surprise for the audience and for me. Ah, the joys of live theater.

Additional reading: The Crimson story.

[Caption: Isabel Carey '12 (the writer) and Nasir Husain '12 in FAUSTUS. PHOTOS: Anne McGrath]