At one point today, together with a bunch of theatre folks we wondered when was Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus last staged in Italy.
After some head-scratching, we came to a baffling conclusion: nobody could remember ever seeing or even hearing or reading of any such thing. I’m not saying positively and absolutely that Faustus was never ever staged in the history of Italian theatre – but five well-informed, well-read and well-theatred actors, directors and drama teachers and one Marlowe buff, between the ages of forty and seventy, couldn’t recall one single production…
At the very least, Italian Faustuses must be few and far between.
A little research has yielded, so far, a 1978 tv adaptation called, a little unfortunately, “Il Fausto di Marlowe”, a radio adaptation about the same years, and a 2011 cantata for choir, tenor and orchestra by composer Matteo D’Amico – and nothing else. *
And the last Italian translation seems to be the one by Nemi D’Agostino, back in 1980.
As I said, I’m baffled.
I sort of knew that Marlowe is very little known and even less staged – but somehow I thought to find something more. Something at all, you know.
Which makes our work with Il Palcoscenico di Carta all the more relevant and interesting, if you ask me… But this is not the point. The point is that this made us all want to do it ourselves.
To stage Faustus – or some other Marlowe, come to think of it, but Faustus especially. And not just because nobody else does it, but because it is a great, powerful, deep, unsettling play that bloody well deserves to be staged and known. So we began discussing practicalities, such as a dramatis personae longer than my arm, and the 1604 and 1616 versions, and doubling, and visuals, and cuts perhaps, and would I object greatly to take active part in the thing…
It was mostly idle talk, for today – the sort of what-if games theatre folks will indulge in on a rainy day. And yet…
And yet I wonder if we didn’t put together seeds today. If it’s not something that will grow and bloom into a real project, and if we won’t find ourselves backstage, in some more or less near future, two or three days from first night, and ask each other: “Do you remember that day, when we wondered when was the last Italian Faustus?”
* Unless you want to count Salveti and Trionfo’s 1976 Faust Marlowe Burlesque – a very, very free adaptation mixing up Marlowe, Goethe, Emily Brontë and many others… I don’t want to.