Faustus, PhD: Play in Two Acts

ensemble theatre · theater arts caltech · Ages 13+ · United States of America

Buy Tickets

Add to Favorites

Jack Faustus is a frustrated, ambitious 3rd-year graduate student who sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for fame, fortune, and a Nobel Prize at 35. Will the price be worth it? This play is a modern re-imagining of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, and premiered at Caltech in May 2017.

The idea for this play came about one evening in my office. I was planning out the next two weeks-worth of experiments, and in those circumstances it is quite possible that the work is done, the data are analyzed, and nothing interesting has been gained. On the other hand, there are those weeks where everything goes right, and the results are quite profitable. How wonderful it would be to guarantee two successful weeks by knowing exactly which experiments to run, and how they would work! Extend this guarantee to the span of two years, and an entire PhD could be done in that time. For such knowledge, an ambitious graduate student would be tempted to sell his soul. I realized I had an idea for a play….and then I realized that this play had already been written for a different time.
Doctor Faustus is perhaps the most famous work of the Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe, with its description of Helen of Troy being quoted ad nauseam in the film Shakespeare in Love. The play dwells on the timeless themes of ambition and power, and provides an excellent template for a story about a man selling his soul. However, in two respects I felt that the play needed updating. First, in Marlowe, Faustus’ chief sin is that he wants to know too much about the world around him. Today, this desire drives every institution of higher learning. Second, the idea of damnation to an ever-boiling pit of fire is slightly out of fashion, though selling one’s soul in order to further worldly ends has never gone out of vogue. I decided, instead, to make the play a study of gains without (initial) pains, and of how worldly aims can lead to worldly damnation. I only hope that Kit Marlowe’s ghost won’t eternally haunt me for these modifications!

production team

Default user image

Don't Miss "A Life Behind Bars"

A 4095 m 238254

A hilarious & seedy roller coaster ride of after-hour whiskey shots, horror films & rock & roll. Dan Ruth shares dark comic monologues, interwoven with characters he's encountered while working & drinking in the bars & dives of NYC.

MANSON'S GIRLS - A New Musical!

A 4027 m 9352758

Welcome to the edge of society and beyond where the strange world of Manson's Girls takes place. Nearly 50 years ago the fateful events of 1969 stuck a fork into the consciousness of America perhaps deeper than it had ever been forked before or since