08.29.17To Kill A Mockingbird performances continue!
LM is continuing to enjoy playing Scout in LL\'s fast paced production of this amazing story. See their website for the next show to be performed near you!
03.08.17Wellesley College coaching
LM continues to coach the casts of Wellesley College's MainStage productions on all things physical. It is always such a joy to work with these talented and hard working casts!
01.05.16To Kill A Mockingbird with LIVING LITERATURE
I am having a wonderful time adapting this moving novel into a 3 person play for the fantastic Living Literature Theatre. Performance dates in Feb and March around New England to be announced!
11.20.15Masterclass at WELLESLEY COLLEGE
I had a wonderful time teaching a "Creating a Character" workshop for the cast of "A Civil War Christmas" at Wellesley College. We had a wonderful day of working on all the many characters that great play required and the cast really created a wonderful world in their successful run of that wonderful play!
10.18.15DANGEROUS CORNER @ 2nd Story Theatre
I just finished a fantastic run of "Dangerous Corner" at the wonderful 2nd Story Theatre. Terrific cast, director and crew produced a truly great production that performed to mostly sold out houses. A true delight to perform such a *fun* role!
10.06.15Workshop at DEAN COLLEGE
I just completed two enthusiastically attended workshops at Dean College. I taught MELT for Actors for the theatre/musical theatre students there and had a lovely time. Great students with some strong talent!
It is with excitement (and sadness as well) that we move to Providence, RI! I so appreciated every person I worked with during my four years in NC and I will miss you all. Now on to the next adventure in RI!
04.23.14So proud to announce!
We couldn't be more thrilled to announce the birth of our son James Andrew Munro! Born (a bit early!) 4/23/14. We are smitten and I'm so very excited to take on the biggest and most important role of my life-being a mom!
09.19.13THE BLUEST EYE
I had the pleasure of directing a wonderful cast in the Sold Out production of The Bluest Eye at Bennett College this fall. The feedback was tremendous, the students grew in leaps and bounds and the audiences left changed by this haunting and beautiful story.
07.10.13Guest Teaching in the UK again
Once again I'll be teaching at the Authentic Pilates studio of Oxford for the summer. While in the UK I'll also of course be seeing theatrical performances at the Oxford Playhouse, National Theatre, Globe Theatre, Royal Shakespeare, Finborough Theatre and Apollo Theatre. It's always a challenging and incredibly inspiring time!
06.28.13Acting Teacher for Broadway Camp
Just finished teaching acting at Greensboro Ballet's "Broadway Camp." Our talented little students studied voice, jazz, ballet and acting and put it all together to create a musical theatre performance the end of the week.
03.06.13Big Success at the SETC!
I presented (to a packed room of 50 participants) a workshop entitled "Outside In or Inside Out? Physical or Mental" at the South Eastern Theatre Conference in Louisville, KY. This conference is the largest theatre conference in the country and is an incredibly inspiring event to be a part of. Not only did I present my workshop but I participated in 3 days of workshops and lectures myself.
Great fun and and honor to be invited.
12.01.12A very fun reading!
I'll be helping with (and participating a bit in) Paper Lantern's Company's reading of Steve Willis's "Oscar Wilde's Christmas Carol" This play is part of PLC's new play reading series-It's a funny, poignant and a bit raunchy tale and I think that all involved will have quite a good time:)
11.28.12Acting coach for THE NUTCRACKER
I had a wonderful time coaching the Clara's of Greensboro Ballet's The Nutcracker on their acting. It's been a very long time since I was Clara in Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker but it was amazing how much this brought it all back. What a delightful way to bring my past into my present.
11.15.12Directing 2 plays!
I have directed two lovely one act plays as part of the Rest In Peace series written by Steve Willis. Performances run 11/15-18 at Bennett College in Greensboro, NC. Talented cast that has grown tremendously during this process and plays dealing with very truthful and poignant subject matter. Come one come all!
10.20.12Proposal accepted at the South Eastern Theatre Conference
I have been accepted to give a workshop on Acting at this year SETC in KY in March. It's always an inspiring event to attend and I'm honored to get to present as well!
I am the Pilates instructor for Greensboro's wonderful series "Fitness by the Fountain"
Free classes all summer on Mondays and Wednesdays -check it out!
07.02.12Guest Teacher once again
I just returned from another wonderful time in Oxford as their summer international guest teacher at the Authentic Pilates Studio of Oxford. I am always greatly challenged and inspired from the work there! (I also enjoyed seeing 6 plays throughout the UK while there as well:)
06.21.12Masterclass for the GCNA!
I had a wonderful time giving a MELT masterclass to a HUGE group of participants at the annual congress for the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America which was held at Clemson University
By far the biggest and most important production I've ever put on-I will be the luckiest person in the world when I get to marry Dr. Andrew David Munro on May 26th in Winston-Salem, NC.
04.27.12Doing a Staged Reading!
I will be in the very moving and powerful production of "8" at the Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance. Here's the blurb on the play: "8"—a new play by Academy-award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar)—demystifies the debate around marriage equality by chronicling the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Learn about the historical context of marriage from expert testimony. See the human cost of discrimination. Uncover the arguments used to justify bans on marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Using the actual court transcripts from the landmark federal trial of California's Prop. 8 and first-hand interviews, "8" shows both sides of the debate in a moving 90-minute play.
11.14.11Poof!/Two Women & a Chair a success at Bennett College!
I just finished my Bennett College directing debut. An evening of one acts (Poof! and Two Women and a Chair) and poetry performed in the Little Theatre to very warm audiences. Very proud of how the students grew both on and off the stage!
11.10.11Talkback at Bennett College!
I have organized a talkback with Dr. Wrenn and Dr. McLucas at Bennett College following the opening night performance of Poof!/Two Women and a Chair, 11/10/11 @ 7:30pm. Issues such as Domestic Violence and Female Identity will be addressed. Come join us for what is guaranteed to be an interesting and enlightening time after these 2 thought provoking plays!
08.18.11Starting my new position!
I am thrilled to announce my new position as Assistant Professor of Theatre at Bennett College! I'll be teaching and directing and loving every minute working at his wonderful institution!
06.05.11Doing a reading in NYC with the Lynx Ensemble Theatre
I'll be playing the role of Jo in a reading of BOOM by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. The reading is sponsored by the amazing Lynx Ensemble Theatre and considering this wacky play-should prove to be a blast!
04.13.11ALMOST, MAINE Opens at Greensboro College April 13-17
I'm very very excited for this play to open. I've enjoyed directing it immensely and am very proud of the work that everyone has done to bring this lovely story to life.
03.23.11Performing at Triad Stage!
I will be performing as "The Violinist" in "Letters from Leokadia" at the Upstairs Cabaret Theatre at TRIAD STAGE. Very much looking forward to reviving this production!
02.13.11Speaking at the SETC 2011
I will once again give a workshop at the South Eastern Theatre Conference this year (March 2011). This time it will be in Atlanta and will incorporate MELT to release tensional patterns for actors to free up their physical instrument and release their breath/emotion.
01.11.11Directing Almost, Maine!
I have been asked to direct the lovely play "Almost, Maine" at Greensboro College in April. Very much looking forward to working with the students and designers to bring this wonderful story to the public!
11.23.10Guest Lecturer at Clemson University
I just had a wonderful experience speaking to the Performing Arts Students of Clemson University. The topic was "Having A Multi-Faceted Arts Career" and the feedback and response was truly inspiring!
11.08.10Dorthy Parker Performance
I will be be performing a fantastic Dorthey Parker short one woman piece for the Touring Theatre of NC's fall gala. The costume alone is worth going!
10.28.10Teaching at Davidson College
I am *extreamely* pleased to announce I'll be an adjunct assistant professor of theatre at Davidson College Spring 2011. It's an amazing school that has a wonderful theatre department and I'm very much looking forward to working with everyone there!
09.25.10Acting in Catfish Moon
I just completed a fantastic run of the heartwarming play Catfish Moon at the Open Space Cafe Theatre. What a fun role!
08.08.10Professor at Greensboro College!
I have been hired as an adjunct professor of acting at Greensboro College this fall! Very excited to work with the students in this fantastic theatre dept.
08.06.10Guest Teaching in England
I have just arrived back from another very successful season teaching at the Authentic Pilates Studio of Oxford. As it was my 4th season as a guest teacher there, it was lovely to see many of the same clients and as usual I learned a lot as well. (and of course saw 7 plays on my off time!:)
07.23.10Speaking at Clemson University!
I will be a guest speaker at the Performance Forum at Clemson University in November. The topic will be on being an artist in today's society and the pros and cons of having a multi-faceted career.
06.14.10Teaching an Actors Toolkit Class!
I'll be collaborating with 2 other fantastic teachers in June to teach a week long Intensive. "Actors Toolkit:Creating a Character through Voice, Movement and Dialect." At the High Point Community Theatre. I'll be teaching the Movement part!! Click on the link for registration info!
05.14.10Performing with the Burning Coal Theatre Co.!
I've been cast in "Oakwood: Generations." Very excited to work with the fabulous Burning Coal Theatre co. They do some of the best professional theatre down in this area so I'm looking forward to it! We are performing one weekend only...May 14-16. See the website for more info.
04.30.10Performing at Triad Stage!
I will be performing as the violinist in "Letters from Leokadia" at the upstairs theatre of Triad Stage! It's a world premiere and I'm working with the composer as he creates the sound scape to the play. Great fun, a great challenge and a lovely chance to cross the boards at Triad Stage!
04.30.10MELT on TV!!!
MELT will be featured on "The Doctors" on ABC this Friday April 30th-check for your local listings! Watch and then contact me to get MELT'd!!***
04.12.10Master Class at Salem College
I will be teaching a MELT master class for the modern dance students (and a few faculty!) at Salem College. I love bring MELT to artists so it should be fun!
02.14.10Speaking at the SETC!!!
I will be giving a workshop
>MELT For Actors: Release Tensional Patterns That Stop You from Doing "our Best Work! at the South Eastern Theatre Conference on March 5th. I'll also be at the convention for most of that week as an auditioning actor and taking lots of other workshops! If you happen to be there-come on by!
See the link for more details
02.14.10Just cast in my first project in NC!
I have just been cast in "The Vagina Monologues" and "A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, A Prayer" (performing in rotating rep) as part of the V-Day celebration in Greensboro in March. This charity event will be performed the 2nd and 4th weekends of March. Stay tuned for more info!
02.12.10MELT and Pilates Mat Classes in Winston-Salem!
Hi everyone! I've just been hired to now teach 2 MELT classe at the BodyMind Inc. Pilates studio and 2 Pilates Mat classes at the Academy of Dance Arts. Both studios are in Winston-Salem so check out my website for more info!
01.30.10Guest Speaker at Salem College
I've been asked to speak as a professional performing artist at the Performance Forum at Salem College on March 19th. Stay tuned for more info!
01.28.10NC Classes Begin!
Hi everyone! I've started my NC adventure and my Pilates and MELT website is up...please check it out. www.pilatesandmelt.com Classes at the Greensboro Ballet start next week and Winston-Salem classes are being scheduled as well.
Stay tuned for theatre happenings in this new state!
01.02.10It was a huge success!!
I'm thrilled to report that our 5 week run of Under the Gaslight was a huge nearly sold-out success. Great reviews (with good mentions for me!) in the NY Times, Backstage, NYTheatre.com, Village Voice, TheatreScene.net, TalkinBroadway.com and more! Photos and reviews now posted!
11.20.09First Preview Tonight!
We start our week of previews tonight of UNDER THE GASLIGHT at the Metropolitan Playhouse! (opening is November 28th)
Having a blast with a truly fantastic cast. Click the link for tickets.
10.20.09Just got cast!
I'll be playing the role of Peachblossom (and Sue Earlie) in Metropolitan Playhouse's next production. "Under the Gaslight"
09.09.09MELT Hand & Foot!
Hi Everyone! I will be teaching a 2 session MELT HAND & FOOT TREATMENT Intensive at Kinespirits Riverside Studio-214 West 85th Street
A two session series that teaches to rehydrate your connective tissue and effect change in your body in a matter of minutes by using specialized hand and foot balls. Typical results include relief from neck and low back pain, arthritis, bunions, and carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as improvement in overall body communication, alignment, and flexibility. Two 90 minute classes.
Tues. Sept. 29th & Oct. 6th 6-7:30 pm
$160 members/$200 non JCC-members (price includes MELT DVD kit)
Click on the link and then "Online Scheduler" and then "Workshops" to register
09.09.09Mat Class (with a bit of MELT) this Saturday 9/12!
Just a reminder that I'll be teaching a mat class (with a bit of foot MELT) this Saturday from 11-12 at Keystone Dance Studio, 252 W30th St. #4-B
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
09.07.09Back to the USA!
Hi everyone. I'm back from a very successful stint as a guest teacher in Oxford. I learned a lot as I always do and saw 8 fantastic plays as well!
Here's to a great fall!
07.31.09Back to the UK!
I've been asked back for the 3rd year in a row so I'll be spending the rest of the summer as a guest Pilates instructor in Oxford, England (and seeing as many plays in London and at the RSC as possible!) Happy summer all!
Just finished a successful reading (with a really great cast) of a new play "The Killing Book," by the very talented Sandor Weiner. Hopefully it will now be produced spring/summer of '10!
07.15.09See me Roll in the news!
Hi folks. So there was a little blurb on MELT on NY 1 yesterday and you can see me lookin silly in my blue pants if you go to the link below. It's also a great chance to get a better idea of what this MELT thing is I keep talking about!!
07.15.09MELT this Monday!
Hello friends. I've been asked to sub for a MELT class this Monday night from 6:30-7:30 and I'm allowed to provide my friends a discount!
So -here are the details
WHERE: The Breathing Project
15 West 26th street between bway and 6th Ave
WHEN: 7/20 from 6:30-7:30
Contact me for more details!!
And don't forget my MELT for Actors workshop this Saturday!!!
Thanks to all who showed up for my Pilates class on Friday. It was a very fun success and everyone wants to continue so now the challenge will be to find time/space to continue in the fall...I'm hopeful! (let me know if you want me to keep you posted on upcoming classes!)
06.24.09MELT for ACTORS!
So it's happening! After collaborating and consulting with MELT method's creator Sue Hitzman, I will be teaching a workshop on July 18th from 11am-12pm at Shetler Studios. As ya'll know I'm pretty psyched about the affects MELT has on ya and I'm even more excited to combine my two worlds to bring it to actors. Click on the link for more info and RSVP if ya want to come! See you on the 18th!
06.15.09SPIRA PRODUCTIONS is born!
After a very productive meeting in NC with my collaborator Kerrie Seymour, I am pleased to announce the birth of Spira Productions. This company will be the umbrella organization for our first show: SINK: Two Women, Two Eras, One Battle. We hope to be up on our feet (and perhaps have our first booking) by winter 2010. Stay tuned!!
Ladies and Gents I am SO excited to announce I'm now a fully certified MELT instructor. And what I'm even more excited about is how this is going to change my bodywork practice. The combination of MELT and Pilates is so fantastic and the lasting changes I will be able to help people with is really amazing. SO contact me if you want me show ya! 3 sessions of MELT and you will know how to self treat on your own and then we can launch into Pilates work and make your workouts so much better! (I'm excited can you tell? :))
On Tuesday May 5th I'll be perofrming a section of "Vile Affections" by Vanda as part of the LAMBDA Society's Literary Awards Ceremony. (Vanda is up for an award for this play that has just been published). Congrats Vanda!
Hi folks! Welcome to my new and improved website!
- Workshop of the fantastic new play "Mrs. Ryan of Maspeth Queens" by Vanda at THE MANHATTAN THEATRE SOURCE
-Reading of "Random Sharp Objects" by Esther Friedman with the LYNX ENSEMBLE THEATRE
-Ongoing readings around Manhattan of "The Heiress" by Ruth & Augustus Goetz with the METROPOLITAN PLAYHOUSE (see "Onstage In... link)
-Completed first 1/2 of my MELT certification!!!
-Continuing work on finalizing the script of the exciting new 2 person play I'm working on (watch this space for more info soon!)
-"Memory River" by Vanda, directed by Troy Miller with the EMERGING ARTISTS THEATRE (nearly sold out run!)
04.21.092008 and before
-Workshop production of "Candide Does America" at STAGEWORKS HUDSON in collaboration with HRC/SHOWCASE THEATRE
June & July '08
-Readings of "Plan Z" by Justin Deabler at THE ENSEMBLE STUDIO THEATRE (as part of their "Bloodwork 2008" reading series)
-"A Visit to The Bronx" by Sharon E. Cooper, Directed by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer At the Michael Weller Theatre. Part of THE MILK CAN THEATRE'S Five Borough Plays Festival
Lian-Marie was recently seen onstage at THE PUBLIC THEATRE
UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL
A festival tracking new theater
January 9, 2008 – January 20, 2008
in "the Choir"
Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company
Written and Directed by Young Jean Lee
[Young Jean Lee’s] slyly subversive drama [Church] ambushes its audience with an earnest and surprisingly moving Christian church service that might be the most unlikely provocation produced in years". – The New York Times
Playwright and director Young Jean Lee transforms her life-long struggle with Christianity into an exuberant church service designed to test the expectations of the religious and non-religious alike. Using music, dancing, and preaching, four liberal Evangelical Christian ministers with a taste for the surreal offer God as a solution to the hollowness of contemporary life.
Church premiered at Performance Space 122 and was co-produced by the Vienna Festival 2008, the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University, and Performance Space 122. Additional co-producer BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Church was a National Performance Network Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Walker Art Center, in partnership with The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, and the National Performance Network. With support from Jerome Foundation. This production of Church was co-produced by Timothy Childs.
-"The Falling Notes"by Andrew Rosendorf as part of the
SAMUEL FRENCH XXXII ANNUAL ORIGINAL SHORT PLAY FESTIVAL
Magda, a promising Julliard violinist starts to lose her hearing causing isolation and silence around her, and chaos within. A dialogue between music, silence and words both heard and unheard.
for more info...
-"Guided Tour"by Peter Snoad with the HRC SHOWCASE THEATRE
-Goethe's "Faust" (in two parts)...performed in NY for the 2nd time ever! at THE CLASSIC STAGE COMPANY
'Faust': That Old Black Magic That Goethe Wove So Well
Goethe was the great chronicler of the Enlightenment, and his masterpiece, the sprawling dramatic poem "Faust," records the individual's struggle for mastery as European culture evolved from medieval superstition through Enlightenment rationality to a bewildering moment that, with floods and disaster brought about by technological failure and human overreaching, is creepily prophetic of our own time.
As drama "Faust" dwells in the realm of the masque, the mystery play and the epic: a theatrical spectacle that addresses a nexus of ideas by any means necessary, with splinters of sharp comedy, explosions of pageantry, moments of enthralling lyricism. So it would seem to be made for the adventurous theatrical imagination of the director David Herskovits. Still, six hours in the dark on East 13th Street?
But the Target Margin Theater's remarkable performers offer the extravaganza promised by the material. This two-part "Faust" is a circus of operatic scale, a fun house, a tango of poetry and theatrical and sonic wizardry whose virtuosity renders the work in all its surging strangeness, power and extravagant beauty.
Engaging the lucid and direct language of Douglas Langworthy's commissioned translation, the actors speak a poetry that neither distorts a sense of the original nor alienates the contemporary listener. From the beginning, when, as the aging Goethe, E. C. Kelly speaks to us in rumpled shirtsleeves, we are taken in.
Think of yourself at the feet of an Allen Ginsberg or a James Merrill. "Once more you draw near me, flickering shapes," Goethe says. "You're crowding in! All right, take charge." He continues, warning, "The pain feels fresh, repeating the lament/Of the twisted labyrinth of life."
Toward the end of Part 1 — which Target Margin performed as two separate plays in 2004 and 2005— Gretchen, vividly played by Eunice Wong, appears at her famous spinning wheel singing her grief and longing. Our pain is fresh too, but so is our wonder.
The play proper begins with Faust, an old, bearded African-American (the wonderful Will Badgett), obsessively ranting in a junk-strewn hole in the wall. His frustration and rage are so coiled that his contract with the devil, a rescuer adorned in red spangled horns, seems a natural turn of events. Dressed for much of the play's two parts in what looks like Armani, David Greenspan's Mephistopheles is irresistible.
You know you shouldn't go near him, but look at his gesticulating hands, hear what he says. Never mind that his wingtip side-sliding moves articulate evil more than charm; you can't keep your eyes off him, especially when, in a moment of performative assertion, he declares, "I am the spirit that negates."
In other versions of the story, Faust's soul is turned over to the devil on signing, so to speak, but Goethe's Mephistopheles is promised it only if Faust's every desire is satisfied. After signing in blood, Faust is freed of the strictures of religion and morality, and the play becomes a very modern and fractious collaboration between the powers of vitality, newly embodied in a young, buff Faust (the engaging Ty Jones), and Mephistopheles, who must now abet Faust's striving.
Even though Faust doesn't end up in hell, we can't rejoice. In choosing to pursue his existential destiny, Faust is spared no cost, and, Goethe seems to say, neither are we.
Target Margin's "Faust" is performed in two parts. You can see them on successive evenings or make a day of it on the weekend. The first part is a more powerful theatrical event on its own, but seeing both is an unforgettable experience, the production of a great masterwork whose fidelity and excellence are unlikely to be repeated anytime soon
---by By Honor Moore
W. Badgett and D. Greenspan
One mind is worth a thousand hands.
Faust, Parts I & II
The first half of this magnum opus was presented as two "work-in-progress" productions by Target Margin, in 2004 and 2005. We reviewed both, and those reviews are linked below. In the United States, it's by far the exception rather than the rule that theater companies have the luxury of fine-tuning their work in this way. (In Europe, with state-supported culture, it is far more common.) The benefit of this intensive process is demonstrable in the result. Ideas that no doubt seemed good in advance, but which didn't work well in execution, have been jettisoned; casting has been adjusted; and the story is now told with clarity and fine pacing. (Which is saying something for a show of this length.)
The basic details of Part I are that, after some introductions, Faust (Will Badgett -- the younger version of Faust is played in the middle of the production by Ty Jones) makes his legendary deal with the Devil, Mephistopheles (David Greenspan): if the Devil can satisfy Faust on earth, he owns Faust's soul for eternity. After some exposure to what the world offers, the particular desire Faust seeks to satisfy is gaining the affection of a girl he spots -- Gretchen (Eunice Wong). Though Mephistopheles succeeds in delivering the girl, it ends badly. Part I concludes with Gretchen -- who has become pregnant in the process -- killing her baby and dying.
The second part of Faust was workshopped late in 2005, though it was not open to review. There is, therefore, no "before" shot with which to compare it. What can be said is that the second part of the work presents challenges that are not present in the first. Much like Ibsen's Peer Gynt, it is frequently said to be a "closet drama" -- a play to be read rather than seen.
Much of Part II consists of an allegorical/fantasy/LSD trip journey that Faust takes with Mephisto -- along the way coming in contact with (among many others) an emperor (of Germany, though that's only implied here), Helen of Troy, Paris and a test tube baby named Homunculus (Lian-Marie Holmes). They travel to a Classical Walpurgis Night in Greece, to Arcadia, to the palace of Menelaus, to the land of the mothers as well as a variety of other destinations. But this is not just a pleasure trip -- with Mephisto, Faust manages to do quite a bit of work: at one point inventing paper money, and at another reclaiming land from the sea. It's not really until the fifth and final act of Part II that the story (and the production) regains the intelligibility of Part I. And then Faust, old and blind, dies, his soul (not without a fight on the Devil's part) ascending to Heaven.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but it's pretty rough going there for a while, and it can't be said that Target Margin has made a strong case against the prevailing wisdom that Faust II is unstageable. I might add that Douglas Langworthy's translation is just that. It might have been more interesting to see what Langworthy and director David Herskovits could have achieved with a less literal adaptation that separated the wheat from the chaff of Goethe's writing.
The production continues to follow the basic signature of Target Margin's previous work. Meta-theatrics rule here. Stage hands walk on and off handing props and costumes to the actors as they are called for; costume changes often take place on stage (sometimes with a stage hand providing a "vanity shield" in the form of a small piece of cloth or a curtain) and so on. Sets and props are frequently suggested by cartoonish cutouts, and the number of set pieces and props employed in this six hour extravaganza is remarkable. Costumes range from second-hand store rejects to outlandishly constructed works of art -- a poodle head, three enormous devil heads and mind-blowingly garish concoctions used for witches, monkeys, Walpurgis Night celebrants and a host of others. The magnitude of the costume inventory for this show is also jaw-dropping. Lighting and sound design are also extensive undertakings and both are well executed.
The performances are generally quite good. Casting Mr. Greenspan as the devil is making a very distinctive choice. In Faust in Love, I complained that his unmistakable persona overtook his character, but I'm happy to say that the two now seem to appear in a good balance. The partners in the role of Faust (Mr. Badgett and Mr. Jones) both do fine work, though Ty Jones certainly has the greater facility with the play's language. Of the remaining cast members (all of whom play multiple parts), Lian-Marie Holmes and Wayne Alon Scott distinguish themselves.
Goethe was a true Renaissance man, with interests in science, philosophy, history, law, politics and of course literature. Faust is filled with autobiographical elements, though obviously there is much in it that was not drawn from life. It was a life's work, and one has the sense that, like Faust, Goethe believed he had to know everything to know anything and yet that to know everything is to know nothing. It's quite an experience to witness this distillation of a life's trials and tribulations, and at the same time the trials and tribulations of finding a way to depict them on the stage.
---by Les Gutman
Part I: Faust (William Badgett)
German literature has a rich tradition of drama with epic proportions. There's Wagner's Ring cycle, of course, and Brecht's self-styled "epic theater." Though lesser known, there's also Karl Kraus's play The Last Days of Mankind, which was so long he claimed it could be performed only on Mars, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's fifteen-and-a-half-hour film Berlin Alexanderplatz.
But the granddaddy of all of these sprawling Teutonic masterworks, which often are as impossible to watch as they are to stage, is Goethe's Faust. Clocking in at just over six hours, it's a work that is often read (or at least assigned) in college, yet rarely given a full production stateside.
It's not just the length of Faust that intimidates directors and producers; it's the wildly incongruous plot and fantastic stage directions as well. In Part I, which is the more conventional of the two parts by far (and makes sense as a self-contained play), we witness Faust, a lonely man of learning, surrounded by his books, globes, alchemy instruments, and astrolabes. Still, he possesses a desire to overcome his own academic verbiage, ever striving and seeking a transcendent knowledge of experience.
In fact, Faust has just retranslated the first line of Genesis as "In the beginning was the…Deed" when a poodle he found on a nature hike transforms into Mephistopheles, a devil. The poodle, which struck me as silly or bathetic when I read the text years ago, was one of the great surprises of watching a staged production. It is played by an actor in a giant papier-mâché costume and comes off as a wonderfully theatrical element of the ridiculous.
The devil, of course, has come to strike a bargain. Mephistopheles gets Faust's soul if he can find one moment that Faust believes contents him perfectly.
Mephistopheles then whisks Faust away to a rowdy bar to show him a good time; when this doesn't work, he takes Faust to an orgiastic rite of primitive witches (played by absurdly cross-dressing actors). Next, Mephistopheles concocts a plan to get a simple young peasant girl, Gretchen, to fall in love with him. But, as these things are apt to do, the affair ends badly: Gretchen had to kill her mother and her baby. With her suicide, she ascends to heaven, forgiving all, while Faust is still found wanting.
Part II is a crazy roller-coaster ride through several mythological realms, as Mephistopheles now pulls out all the stops to find Faust a transcendent moment. Faust whizzes around through world-historical zeitgeists, from an ancient Egypt of griffins and sphinxes flapping their golden feathers to a future where a mad scientist has created a little man glowing inside a test tube.
One fantastical scene has the man-made "homunculus" riding on the back of the sea god Proteus, who has turned into a dolphin. To stage the scene, actors in costumes hold props representing their characters in action. Nearby, several sea nymphs frolic on the half-shell, reminding me of scenes of mythological mischief from Matthew Barney's The Cremaster Cycle.
Part II: Mephisto (David Greenspan), Homonculus (Lian-Marie Holmes), and Young Faust (Ty Jones)
In the middle of Part II, there is an hourlong play-within-a-play featuring Helen of Troy. Helen and Faust have a child, and there is a funny scene in which their child, represented by a surprisingly expressive puppet, hops and skitters around the mountainsides.
Suffice it to say, however, that Faust is never satisfied, and the tragedy belongs to Mephistopheles. If the second half of Part II begins to lag with its sheer glut of myth and profusion of characters, one wants to be sure to wait for the finale. Devils dance around with giant masks that make them look like bobblehead dolls, endless streams of silver confetti pour down from the ceiling, and a chorus of angels sings an operatic hymn to life.
In fact, director David Herskovits has inserted many imaginative touches throughout the production, emphasizing the self-consciously theatrical quality of the text, which is often interpreted "poetically." For example, stagehands hilariously prance out onstage to hold a cloth to cover Gretchen when she is changing and, later, to cover the destruction of a violin.
Set designer Carol Bailey has given different scenes radically distinctive styles, from romantic gardens painted on a backcloth, to a small proscenium stage for the miniplay, to plywood cutouts for the mountain crags.
While all of the actors are adequate, David Greenspan, playing a dapper Mephistopheles, has the edge of worldly savoir-faire and insouciant archness necessary to convey the obsessive scheming of a devil who's seen it all. His character shifts from making flip gestures and snide wisecracks to having genuine pathos in his "death" speech. Douglas Langworthy's new translation uses a snappy, vernacular verse that emphasizes the off-the-cuff wit of the original.
If you have the stamina, seek out this rare opportunity to experience a transcendently theatrical staging of an epically proportioned classic.
--by William Cordeiro
Souls at Stake: Faust Descends On the East Village
In yesterday’s theater round-up, we noted the Stadttheater festival of new German theater at HERE Arts Center, but right now you can also see a staging of one of the most cherished works in classic German literature: Goethe’s Faust. For three years, Target Margin Theater Company has been working toward a full presentation of the 18th century masterpiece, newly translated by Douglas Langworthy, and on Sunday – probably not coincidentally, Walpurgisnacht, which, as those familiar with Faust know, is quite an important day for the story – the two-part, six-hour extravaganza opened.
The benefits of the long gestation period – made possible thanks to Target Margin’s and the cast’s remarkable dedication – are obvious in everything from pacing to costumes to sound; David Greenspan, who plays Mephistopheles, is phenomenal, Will Badgett and Ty Jones, as old and young Faust, and Eunice Wong, as Gretchen, nearly match the old devil’s intensity with their forceful portrayals, and the other cast members juggle so many disparate roles so gamely and with such aplomb that you can’t help but shake your head in amazement. If you’re not sure you have the stamina for six hours of theater (we weren’t sure we would, but there was enough of a break between the two halves for us to grab dinner), you can also see the show on separate nights, or even just see half of it – tickets are sold separately anyway. But Faust is so rarely staged in its entirety that it would be a shame to miss out this time, especially in these days of one-act, hour-long shows coming and going with scarcely a moment for development or reflection. If for nothing else, go for the numerous hilarious-scary orgy scenes – we hope Target Margin auctions off some of the “naked" suits when the production is over, because they could be fun to have on hand.
---by Mallory Jensen