Campus News

CAI artists in residence to present staged reading of Faust with new chamber score

Faust und Mephisto beim Schachspiel, oil on canvas, Friedrich August Moritz Retzsch

Faust und Mephisto beim Schachspiel, oil on canvas, Friedrich August Moritz Retzsch


Published January 11, 2017

UB’s Creative Arts Initiative (CAI) will present an inventive reworking of Goethe’s epic “Faust” by Yale Drama Award-winning playwright Neil Wechsler and former Tanglewood Music Center compositional fellow Nathan Heidelberger next month as part of its residency program. Performances are at 8 p.m. Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.

Neil Wechsler and Nathan Heidelberger

Neil Wechsler (left) and Nathan Heidelberger

“The Faust Project: A Staged Reading with Live Music of Goethe’s Faust,” is an 80-minute staged reading of selected scenes from Goethe’s tragedy adapted and directed by Wechsler with Heidelberger’s new chamber score. It features UB faculty member Vincent O’Neill as Mephistopheles, David Oliver as Faust, and Kurt Guba and Josephine Hogan in multiple roles.

The challenge of capturing all of Goethe’s 17-hour epic in a spare, roughly hourlong performance mirrors Faust’s own insatiable drive to master all knowledge and highlights the simplicity at the heart of the story — the bargain between Faust and the devil.

Wechsler and Heidelberger are members of CAI’s inaugural residency class of nationally and internationally recognized artists and performers involved in research, production, workshops and performance at UB and in the Western New York creative community during the 2016-17 academic year.

Their residencies, in partnership with the Burchfield Penney Arts Center’s A Musical Feast Concert Series, are part of a yearlong celebration of the museum’s 50th anniversary.

In addition to their performances, Wechsler’s and Heidelberger’s residencies include presentations to students at UB, SUNY Buffalo State, Nichols School and Just Buffalo Literary Center that examine Faust’s structure, timeless appeal and contemporary relevance.

Wechsler also will discuss the unique challenges to a playwright arising from condensing Goethe’s sweeping opus, while Heidelberger will touch on the musical component of the project, including a preview of his score.

The following events are open to the public:

  • Jan. 17, 4:30-5:30 p.m.: Just Buffalo Writing Center and Youth Writing Workshop, 468 Washington St., Buffalo. This free talk is aimed at young students aged 12–18, and limited to 12 participants. No registration is required.
  • Jan. 17, 7-9 p.m.: “Jung and Goethe’s Faust, A Dramatic Presentation,” The Chapel at Trinity Church, 371 Delaware Ave, hosted by the Analytical Psychology Society of Western New York. Registration required through the C. G. Jung Center’s website. Admission: $8 for members (APSWNY and Trinity Episcopal), $10 for non-members.
  • Jan. 22, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Jan. 24, 7-10 p.m.: Open rehearsals, Room B1, Slee Hall, North Campus. Open rehearsals offer a unique perspective on the creative dynamic between conductors, musicians and composers as they sculpt pieces for final performance. Visitors have the chance to watch the music come to life. The event is free; no registration is required.

The CAI is a university-wide initiative dedicated to the creation and production of new work upholding the highest artistic standards of excellence and fostering a complementary atmosphere of creative investigation and engagement among students, faculty, visiting artists and the community.

Through its artist-in-residence program and innovative, interdisciplinary offerings for students, CAI is raising the profile of UB and Buffalo in world of artistic expression and revitalizing the university and region’s proud tradition as leaders in contemporary art.