UB artists in residence reach for new audience in hour-long staged reading of Faust with new chamber score

Neil Wechsler, left, wearing a blue, red and white plaid open-collared shirt, and Nathan Heidelberger, wearing a white collared shirt and black pullover sweater.

Neil Wechsler, left, and Nathan Heidelberger, part of UB's Creative Arts Initiative, have developed "The Faust Project: A Staged Reading with Live Music of Goethe's Faust," an 80-minute program of selected scenes from Goethe's "Faust."

Neil Wechsler and Nathan Heidelberger, part of UB’s Creative Arts Initiative residency program, also plan series of workshops, classes for students and the public

Release Date: January 9, 2017

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo’s Creative Arts Initiative (CAI) will present The Faust Project: A Staged Reading with Live Music of Goethe's Faust, an inventive reworking of Goethe’s epic by Yale Drama Award-winning playwright Neil Wechsler and former Tanglewood Music Center compositional fellow Nathan Heidelberger.

Performances are at 8 p.m. on Feb. 3-4 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo.

The 80-minute staged reading of selected scenes from Goethe’s tragedy adapted and directed by Wechsler, with Heidelberger’s new chamber score, features 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 hour-long 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 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 year-long celebration of the museum’s 50th anniversary.

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

Wechsler will also comment on the unique challenges to a playwright arising from condensing Goethe's sweeping opus while Heidelberger touches 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 required.
  • Jan. 17, 7-9 p.m.: Jung and Geothe'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 in room B1 of Slee Hall on the UB North Campus. Open Rehearsals offer a unique perspective on the creative dynamic between conductors, musicians and composers as they sculpt pieces for the final performance. Visitors will have the chance to watch the music come to life. The event is free and 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 its innovative, interdisciplinary offerings for students, CAI is raising the profile of UB and Buffalo in world of artistic expression and revitalizing the initiative’s proud tradition as a leader in contemporary art.

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