The Angels of Doctor Faustus

Faustus with Angels

Photo by Charles Wilson

The shared identity of the angels in our adaption of Doctor Faustus is of being from the same place, the same experiences, and the same battles. These angels fought side-by-side, if legend serves. They say that some angels chose sides in the rebellion against God, but they also say that the angels who would not choose a side were also thrown from Heaven and forever damned with those who rebelled against their God. It is this shared conversation that marked the starting point for our angels and the actors’ choices for their backstory.

One additional point of note: We gave all of the chorus’ lines in Marlowe’s original script to the angels. The reason behind this is two-fold. One, angels have the missions of messenger, warrior, and deliverer of God’s will. In the experiences that are part of those missions, they have shared joy, loss, pain, and empathy for those who are lost, even if it is by choice. Second, the angels in the movie “Wings of Desire” have the most wonderful presence and powers of observation. It seemed fitting for our angels to have the opportunity to be the only characters in our show that are allowed to speak directly to the audience. They are, after all, the observers of all human pain and suffering. They are witnesses to Faustus’ downfall and mourn his loss.

We asked our angels how they crafted their characters. We are proud to share their work and their thoughts with you here:

Timothy McKinney (Evil Angel)

Understanding that Marlowe’s Angels are meant to be a representation of Faustus’ conscience more than actual angels, my first concept as Evil Angel was simply the embodiment of that side of our reflection that says, “why not”. After some group analysis on the matter, and the ramped-up consideration that they are actual angels, my position turned more “evil as station”.

There is some editing to this presentation that alters from other iterations, wherein Evil Angel is given a line of dialogue that was formerly reserved for Good Angel in guise as the Old Man. The line in question is:

“Satan begins to sift me with his pride, as in this furnace, God shall try my faith, my faith, Vile Hell, shall triumph over thee.”

These words presented from Evil Angel changes the simple nature of an otherwise two-dimensional role into one of profound depth. The Angels now have a great purpose in the dichotomy of Faustus’ choice to live a life as a Godly man, or one bound for hell.

Now the Angels are on the same side, wanting for the same goal, but still having to compete with one another for Faustus’ decisions. The Good Angel does as one would imagine, tries to get Faustus to listen to reason and understand that God loves him and will forgive him even to the last second of his miserable choices. The Evil Angel however, now wrestles with his/her own sadness at wanting Faustus to make the right choices, but duty bound by God to tempt him otherwise.

My personal preparation for this comes in discovering the common competitive nature of the angels’ task, starting off more as fun and games, only to gradually become wearied by Faustus’ continual downward spiral, eventually arriving at the emotional relevance of being “sifted” by Satan’s pride in winning over our common charge’s soul, partially through my own actions.

Our duty is not one relegated to every soul, only to those whose affinities are of a wholly grand exhibit. Faustus is no ordinary charge. His exploits are of profound proportion: dealing in black magic, making his bargain one not just for ordinary fame, luxury or pomposity, but to put to test even the very limits of hell’s own potential. All for the sake of his own mortal boredom.

Evil Angel wins and loses, and it is only one soul, one charge, one mote of life in the infinite expanse of all that is God.

Maggie Thompson (Good Angel)

Playing a Good Angel is harder than I originally expected. I knew I’d be a chorus member, but I wasn’t sure what that would entail. However, I looked at this role as a chance to step outside my everyday life and really reflect on the values and religion I was taught. My version of this angel is definitely one that shows more emotion and compassion than most portrayal of angels in pop culture. God is a love, and I think that extends to his angels.

My angel offers Faustus grace (unconditional love) and constant chances to turn back to God, and I want that to come through by the small gestures and micro expressions I bring to this character. The angels as a unit are divided between good and evil. My counterpart, the male Good Angel and I reflect one another’s movements, while also being independent in our emotions and thoughts to reach our common goal of bringing Faustus back to the light. We work in tandem against some of the machinations of the Evil Angels. We’re simply there to influence and observe.

Levi Gore (Good Angel)

According to the Judeo-Christian dogma, and many medieval Christian theories there are several orders or angels and hierarchies, depending on the exact status and job that archetype of angel fills.

Watchers were a specific group of archangels who were dispatched to earth to watch over humans, some began to lust after them and fell. Specifically one, who I try to emanate in character is Ramiel; who is the archangel of hope, and he is credited with two tasks: he is responsible for divine visions, and he guides the souls of the faithful into Heaven. He is sometimes called Jeremiel or Uriel in various translations of IV Esdras, He is said to have been the archangel responsible for the destruction of the armies of Sennacherib, as well as being the bearer of the instructions of the seven archangels.

This is the type of angel, with whom I try to characterize and which whom I think Marlowe intended, watching Faustus, providing guide and hope, and trying to guide him to Heaven by whatever means possible, while still maintaining his status as an agent and instrument of destruction for God. I believe it works as an antithesis to the Evil Angels, as well as complimenting the more empathetic Good Angel. It has molded my choices in how I affect Faustus and his decisions, and how as this particular angel sees his goals. I hope for the audiences to see the direct nature that attempts to inspire a grounded hope in Faustus, as well as attempting to guide him.

 

 

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