campus news and events

'The Salvation of Doctor Faustus' Offers New Twist on Classic Tale of a Man who Sells His Soul to the Devil

NEW LONDON, N.H., Jan. 12, 2012 – “The Salvation of Doctor Faustus,” a play written, directed and produced by Charles Moak, a senior at Colby-Sawyer College, offers a modern adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's classic tale, The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, published in 1605.

Performances of “The Salvation of Doctor Faustus” were held on Friday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. at Whipple Town Hall in New London. The proceeds were donated to the show's sponsor, Sunapee-Kearsarge Intercommunity Theatre (SKIT), for its performing arts scholarship program.

Moak, a Media Studies major with minors in Philosophy and Theater, has spent six years writing this adaptation of the well known story about a doctor who sells his soul to the devil, known as Mephistopheles, in exchange for power and knowledge.

In Moak's play, Doctor Faustus is a humanitarian who dedicates his time to the needy in Southeast Asia. Despite his humanitarian work, Faustus is a bitter and angry atheist who is guarding a tragedy in his past. He has recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but has become depressed over having reached the pinnacle of his life with nothing else to strive for.

His situation attracts the attention of the demon Mephistopheles, who offers Faustus a bargain: the devil will help him do more good than any mortal man could ever do in a lifetime, in exchange for the doctor's soul. What follows is a retelling of the classic story, adapted for the modern day.

The performance featured Charley Freiberg, a SKIT member, as Doctor Faustus; Mike Clark, an admissions officer at Colby-Sawyer, as Mephistopheles; and Tom Buckley, a junior at Colby-Sawyer, as Faustus's assistant, Wagner.

The cast included many accomplished student actors. Christine Wertz played Patil, the leader of the country in which Faustus and Wagner are helping the needy. Ryan Foley took on the role of Mammon, who advised Mephistopheles. Kayla Pingree and Travis Carlson were poor villagers, and Amanda Gibbons played the role of Helen of Troy. Community and Colby-Sawyer staff member Bonnie Lewis played Camille, Faustus's former partner.

The play was written and performed as part of Moak's senior Capstone project, a college requirement that serves as a culmination of his years of study. He says the play works well as his Capstone since it's relevant to this major in Media Studies, as well as to his minors in philosophy and theater.

“The play is a semi-modernized retelling of the original,” Moak explains. “I have worked painstakingly to keep the language antiquated in the spirit of the original, but the setting is modern.

Moak serves as a peer tutor in the Student Learning Collaborative, and is a former president of the Sawyer Playwrights Association.