A: Gertrude Stein W: 1938 Pf: 1951, New York Pb: 1949 G: Drama in 3 acts; prose and verse S: Faustus's house and environs, indeterminate period C: 3m, 3f, 2 children (m and f), 1 dog, chorusDoctor Faustus rejects Mephisto, not caring whether the devil has his soul, because there is no soul. The electric lights burn more brightly. Faustus tries to rid himself of a boy and a dog, which keeps saying ‘Thank you’, and then encounters the composite figure of Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel, who ‘is not ready yet to sing about day-light and night light, moonlight and star-light electric light and twilight she is not she is not but she will be’. When she is stung by a viper, she seeks help from Doctor Faustus. Because Faustus sold his soul, he eventually cures her: ‘See how she lights, | the candle lights.’ A man ‘from over the seas’ comes to woo her. Faustus resolves to go to hell by getting the viper to kill the boy and the dog. Rejuvenated, Faustus demands that Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel accompany him to hell, but she sinks into the safety of the arms of the man from over the seas.
A: Gertrude Stein W: 1938 Pf: 1951, New York Pb: 1949 G: Drama in 3 acts; prose and verse S: Faustus's house and environs, indeterminate period C: 3m, 3f, 2 children (m and f), 1 dog, chorus
In 77 rarely staged plays written between 1913 and 1946 Gertrude Stein attempted to apply to playwriting the elements of deconstruction and shifting identity familiar from modernist painting. More a prose poem than a text for performance, this rewriting of the Faustus legend introduces a virginal composite character derived from Margarete and Helen of Troy, who, Eve-like, comes to knowledge through a snakebite (penetration by a phallus?) but rises above Faustus's invitation to descend into hell with him. For some irritating, for others fascinating, Stein's revolutionary explorations have had an undeniable influence on theatrical experimenters like Julian Beck, Robert Wilson, and Richard Foreman.