We hear it all of the time – “Push past your limits”, “Reach for the stars” and the little more grounded “Be all you can be” (which means be more than you are now). Much of speculative fiction features “Post-Humans” with capabilities beyond the more mundanely human. From time immemorial, we have sought to be God or, at the very least, have some capabilities reserved for God. While we are called to do all for God’s glory and “give our utmost for his highest,” this is often an excuse to be discontented with what God has given us and our inherently being – not God. This is the heart of sin, whether it’s Adam and Eve wanting the knowledge of good and evil or Nebuchadnezzar wanting God’s glory for himself. In more recent times, we’ve seen this played out by Bradley Cooper in Limitless, where he portrays a person who gains capabilities men normally don’t have through a special drug. For a time, he was literally the talk of the party. He was charming, smart, and his capabilities seem nearly limitless. He, in fact, is a modern-day Faust, albeit one who stumbled upon his path to glory. If, as the Westminster Divines have it, man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, then the path to becoming limitless is in stark contrast to that for which we are designed. Students at Cary Christian School have taken the opportunity to use Faust as a way to portray the destructive nature of self-focus and self-glory.
The journey to use Faust as a tool to bring this message home began back in 2013, led primarily by Logan Frazier and Julianna Hoover along with Caroline and Chandler Cearley. That journey has led through an initial adaptation of Goethe’s Faust to a streamlined adaptation for the North Carolina Theater Conference (NCTC) competition in Greensboro which received numerous awards including Excellence in Script Adaptation, Stage Combat, Physicalization, as well as Excellence in Acting to Matthew Cooker and Logan Frazer, and Outstanding Student Design in Directing for Caroline Cearley; this production included Matthew Coker, Caroline Cearley, Guy Frazier, Logan Frazier, Thomas Frazier, Juliana Hoover, Collin Lipscomb, Kate Pippin and Derek J. Wertz. It was later performed in the fall of 2014 at Cary Christian School to much acclaim. Now, with the core team augmented by a number new members, they are adopting it for film. Most members of the cast and crew are either alumni of Cary Christian School or faculty. The Cary Christian school board was kind enough to provide seed money for this adventure, along with other fundraising efforts, a focused fundraising effort is being made to take new scenes for the film and present them on the Cary Christian stage July 9 – July 10 at 7:30.
The play encapsulates Faust’s seemingly inevitable fall from Professor to damned. He portrays his desire as a noble pursuit of knowledge, but it is, in fact, seeking to become limitless, to become God. In doing so, he begins to see people as a tool for his own desires, most especially Gretchen. She is used as a distraction by Mephistopheles and as a plaything by Faust. She too falls hard, but is not wholly lost. In this process, however, Faust completely loses himself and becomes a tool of Mephistopheles. A familiar enough tale, but one told poignantly through movement, emotion, and words. One especially moving scene is when the veil is pulled back and we see Mephistopheles as the puppet-master over the marionettes of Faust and Gretchen. Whilst Faust fancies himself growing greater, he is indeed subjugating himself to the devil. Gretchen comes to the brink of insanity but in the end, the reconciling arms of God enfold her into his family and himself. The hubris of pursuing our own glory and desires is nothing less than a stunning mimicry of Lucifer’s rebellion. We are unwilling to submit ourselves to God and his providence, but rather desire to place ourselves on his throne. This may be done in the guise of being all that we can be, of being the best person but it is nonetheless truly desire to be the one in charge and perfect in our own eyes.
So why yet another production of Faust (it has been done, in a number of formats, many times over the years)? This production is contemporary and accessible while maintaining a timeless approach and message. It is a way to both warn on the dangers of self-seeking while simultaneously reminding us, via Gretchen’s story, of the grace of God. This is no mere morality tale, however. This is drama. This production pulls you into the drive of Faust and reminds you of your own drive. You enter into Gretchen’s self-loathing and pain; her heartbreak (and loss of mind) at what she has done. Pain and pathos, hope and despair and the enduring human condition (until that second Advent) are woven not only through the story but through these actors. It is in the warp and woof of their movements and voices, in the baring of souls on stage and before the camera that puts flesh on this story. This message is brought home to head and heart in this production.
The Faust Film, is a ministry tool and independent production telling the story of a man and his propensity to be discontented with God’s grace and to do anything to gratify his urge for possessing omnipotence (all power) and omniscience (all knowledge). The CCS Board has generously awarded us the 2015 Founder’s Grant for the production of the film, and now the team is looking for your contribution to help is increase the quality of the film and the reach of our ministry:
All proceeds will go towards equipment, locations, and props needed for the film. At 7:30 p.m. on the evenings of July 9th and 10th you will be able to see two of the NEW (not seen in the play version) scripted scenes acted out on stage, in addition to one of these scenes as it will appear in the film. The film is being directed by Chandler Cearley, a CCS alumnus studying Film at UNCSA. Actors include CCS graduates Logan Frazier and Juliana Hoover, CCS faculty member Robert Stansberry, and actor TJ Broadhurst. Graduates Micaelah Scott and Janelle True have created concept art and original music for the film.
Admission will be $15 per person. The admittance will be paid by cash or check at the door. Please note that the film does contain some dark themes, and may not be appropriate for young children.
Please register for tickets using the following links.
Thursday –> http://conta.cc/1BzJLiW
Friday –> http://conta.cc/1TMF5fO
Banner Artwork – Micaelah Scott, banner photo – Darby Frazier
[Full disclosure: My son, Logan, is part of the film production. My daughter, Darby, is the production’s still photographer]