Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageLongest-ever Faust is being staged at Expo 2000

By Jean-Baptiste Piggin     Jul 21, 2000 in Lifestyle
Germany is known for not shying away from long and difficult art, so when it
came to choosing a play to perform at the millennial world's fair in Hanover,
only the longest would do: Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
The curtain has just gone up on the most famous drama in German, produced by
Peter Stein, the most noted stage director in Germany, at one of the most
expensive expositions ever staged.
It was the first time Goethe's Faust had ever been professionally performed in
one piece without a single cut.
Stitching together Parts I and II for a show lasting 21 hours could prove a
hammer blow that even Goethe's most ardent fans might find difficult to
stomach, but plenty have bought tickets.
Normally only Faust I, written in 1808, is performed, as a standalone play with
heavy cuts to Goethe's rhyming couplets to get the highly philosophical text
down to manageable length. The sequel, dating from 1832, is rarely
The Expo cast and audience get an interval to sleep and the play resumes the
next day. After its season in the Faust Halle, a specially built theatre at
Expo, the production will be shown in Berlin and Vienna.
Stein's ensemble has been rehearsing since last September for the marathon
production at Expo, the world's fair running from June 1 to October 31.
Promoters fear the production will be caught in the downdraft surrounding the
exposition itself, which is heading towards a monumental financial loss because
only half as many visitors as planned have shown up to marvel at the exotic
Now even the notion of world expositions is being slammed as outdated: the
older generation's way to see tomorrow's world when younger folk can see the
same by connecting to the Internet.
German theatre is caught up in comparable problems, with its audiences mainly
middle-aged and elderly and artistic directors rather than business managers
dominating state-run playhouses.
Faust was to have been played by Bruno Ganz, 59, one of Germany's top actors
and star of the 1987 movie Wings of Desire (Der Himmel ueber Berlin), but he
injured his hip and wrist in a fall on the set and is not expected to recover
before the transfer to Berlin.
In Hanover, the role of the scholar who sells his soul to the devil in the
quest for omniscience is played by Christian Nickel, 31. Devil figure
Mephistopheles is played by two different actors and an actress - Johann Adam
Oest, Robert Hunger- Buehler and Christine Oesterlein.
A black poodle has been specially trained by animal handlers to do the scene
where the devil shows up in the shape of a dog.
To fit in all the scenes conceived by Goethe, the Faust Halle has two stages.
The audience is packed onto six mobile blocks of seating that are moved in and
out of range of the stages.
More about Faust, Drama, Theater, Peter stein
Latest News
Top News