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Faust, by Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater, at Bohemian Hall

The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre presents Johannes Dokchtor Faust, translated by Vit Horejs from the Czech text by the author known only as 'A.B.', opening at the Bohemian Hall on 26 Aug 2007, following previews from 23 Aug and running through to 9 Sep 2007.

The story of the learned Johannes Dokchtor Faust, who sold his soul to the devil for ultimate knowledge, was dramatized in Marlowe's 'Tragical History of Dr. Faustus' (ca. 1589) and Goethe's 'Faust' (1780-1833). Marlowe's play is said to have influenced German and Dutch puppeteers, who in turn influenced Czech puppeteers.

Czech marionette plays began appearing in the 17th and 18th centuries and "Faust" became a puppet-stage blockbuster. A dozen or more puppeteering families orally passed down their own versions of the play and one version, signed only with the initials A.B., was finally published in Prague in 1862, the same year in which publisher Vilimek issued a not very authentic transcript of Faust attributed to the legendary puppeteer Matej Kopecky. The text by A.B. was adapted into English in 1990 by Vit Horejs and was published by Dilia, Prague in 1993.

Directed by Vit Horejs, Johannes Dokchtor Faust is performed by Michelle Beshaw, Jonathan Cross, V�t Horejs, Theresa Linnihan and Alan Barnes Netherton.

The main Mephistopholes puppet, about 26 inches high and about 100 years old, was fashioned in Kladno, Bohemia by Karel Krob, a mason and shoemaker. This Mephisto is a "cobbler marionette"; the expression refers to a puppet any cobbler could make. There are also three copies of Mephisto, differently-sized, used to make him shrink and grow as he gains and loses power. The puppet of Faust is a copy of a folk puppet originally crafted in a Czech-American company 100 to 160 years ago. The balance of the 20-or-so puppets in the show come from the troupe's repertory.

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