Fair is Faust and Faust is fair
Would you seize the chance to fulfil your wildest dreams by giving up your soul? This timeless conundrum, which lies at the heart of the 19th century classic play, Faust, is revisited in FAUST/US, a retelling by Nine Years Theatre.
The homegrown theatre company’s upcoming production offers a contemporary take on the tale of ambition, adventure and morality, as audiences contemplate the worth of one’s being.
For one thing, the play is set in the present world, with a look and feel that is of the moment and easily relatable to audiences today. Also, the protagonist in this adaptation is female, unlike in the original play.
Director Cherilyn Woo acknowledges that few productions have Faust as a female lead, but she felt it would be interesting to see how a female voice might shed new light on the character – an academic who makes a deal with the devil, trading her soul for a lifetime of desires.
Woo also hopes to explore, through the adaptation, the protagonist’s personal journey in grappling with freedom – what freedom does to her, and how she manages to find her own sense of liberty.
Taking a leaf from the premise of the play, we pose Woo and actor Mia Chee, who plays Faust, a quick-fire round of questions about the choices they would make in tough situations concerning love, food, career and lifestyle. What freedoms would they give up?
Would you rather pursue a high-flying career or a fulfilling love?
Woo: I’d choose career because it’s a way to know about love. My career journey has been very fulfilling and full of love. I’ve met many great people on this journey so far, and some have become like family. And love is, in a more universal sense, about love between friends, professional love, etc. Isn’t there a saying about how you shouldn’t go looking for love; if you just live your life, love will find you? So, if I had to choose, it’d probably be career.
Chee: This is a difficult decision. Although I love a good career and I think it’s really important to be able to excel at one’s work, I know I’ll ultimately choose love if I have to decide between the two. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to love and to be loved back, to have a partner in life who understands you and accompanies you in your journey through life. It’s one of the few things that life gifts you, to make it worthwhile to have lived a life.
Would you rather have a week of free, unlimited, high-speed Internet or dine on the most famous gourmet foods and delicacies?
Woo: Wow, tough. I’m a huge fan of food. I’m also of the generation that finds it difficult to live without high-speed Internet. I guess I could use high-speed Internet to find gourmet food? But if it bears me no cost for either, then I would rather free food than free Internet. Who knows, there might be free Wi-Fi at the restaurant that serves gourmet food.
Chee: I’d definitely choose gourmet foods and delicacies. I do not have the wealth to indulge in such things often in life, so it’ll be super cool. I enjoy food and really appreciate the art and craft in good cooking.
Would you rather gain the world but lose your soul, or struggle through life but keep your soul?
Woo: If you’d asked me before I’d read Faust, I’d probably say gain the world. It’s kind of the dream, isn’t it; if we get everything we want, we won’t have worries or stress, we’d just cruise through life and be full of happiness and peace. But over the years, as I think about Faust, and after meeting people of various wealth brackets, I’ve realised that humans always want more, that’s how we progress. So, at this point in my life, I’d choose to keep my soul.
Chee: I’d choose to struggle through life but keep my soul, because life is about appreciating the details in a myriad of things. If you lose your soul, you lose your ability to appreciate things, and that to me would make living futile.
The replies were edited and condensed. Details about FAUST/US here.