Faust: Part I (Faust. Der Tragödie Erster Teil)
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“I have, alas! Philosophy/ Medicine, Jurisprudence too,/ And to my cost Theology,/ With ardent labour, studied through./ And here I stand, with all my lore,/ Poor fool, no wiser than before.” Thus begins the famous monologue in Goethe’s tragedy, almost casually. However, ego is a central theme in Faust: it is all about this monstrous ‘I’: self-indulgent, egocentric, a hybrid in utter despair. Faust has come to the end of the road, but suicide is no solution. Memories of his childhood and an extreme subjectivism prevent him from taking his own life. So he’s to go on living, but how? Faust turns his back on all of society’s points of reference. Possessions, religion, science and education – they no longer have any meaning for him. Neither do earthly pleasures and joie de vivre, leading Faust to lament: “No dog would endure such a curst existence!” How would the story have continued had the Devil not meddled in Henry Faust’s life?
The staging of Part I marked the beginning of the Deutsches Theater’s Faust project. The accompanying conference and both productions of Faust are documented in the publication 'Verweile doch – Goethes Faust heute', part of the 'Blätter des Deutschen Theaters' series.
“Hülsmann’s Faust – big, arrogant, feverish and moved to tears – bows to all the catastrophes that befall him, just as if he’s been whipped…Director Michael Thalheimer neutralises the plays, characters and language, cools them down and gnaws away at them until they’re just bones, making the dull spine-tingling. In Berlin, he quickly and excitingly gives Faust what others have previously denied him: his primal substance. For the play’s entire duration you get two hours of the Faustian, consisting of a nude, exposed, needy, criminal ego.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
With the kind support of the Ernst Schering Foundation, as well as the association Friends and Supporters of the Deutsches Theater
October 16, 2004