Wittenberg

by David Davalos
directed by J. R. Sullivan
originally produced at Arden Theatre, Philadelphia, PA. January 23,2008 through March 16, 2008

Subsequent productions at Perseverance Theatre in Douglas, Alaska, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Florida, and B Street Theatre in Sacramento, California

About the Premiere Production:


Wittenberg University colleagues Dr. Faustus (a man of appetites) and Martin Luther (a man of faith) vie for the attention and admiration of their star student Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (a youth struggling not only with ideas, but with his tennis game). Hamlet must decide whether Faustus' secular philosophy or Luther's religious asceticism will best guide him as the future king. The play itself wonderfully balances big ideas with great humor, all while exploring the stories behind the stories we all know so well. What was Hamlet studying at University before he was called home upon his father's death? What were the circumstances that led Faustus to sell his soul? What drove Luther to make his decisive break with the Catholic Church? Moreover, the play holds the time-honored battle of reason versus faith up to the light and raises questions in both a thoughtful and a thoroughly entertaining way.

Artistic Statement

From Terrence J. Nolen, Producing Artistic Director:
David Davalos is an extraordinary writer. His love of and facility with language make his plays both lush and witty. His willingness to challenge audiences intellectually is balanced by his dazzling sense of humor and the vibrancy of his point of view. Upon first reading Wittenberg, I asked myself whether its themes were too lofty or remote. I wondered if audiences would require a working knowledge of Faustus, Hamlet and the Protestant Revolution to truly enjoy the play. After sitting in on our public reading during the Philadelphia New Play Festival, I knew that Wittenberg was far from lofty or remote - it pulsated with immediacy and made deep connections with a diverse audience. David frames his comedy and his content so well, that during the course of his play we become experts in Hamlet, in Faustus, in the Protestant Revolution. It makes its audience feel alive and smart and able. Moreover, it catapults us, laughing as we go, to deeper thought and discussion long after the curtain call.
The battle between reason and faith was very much alive in me when I watched that reading, and it was then that I realized that we needed to bring this play to life as part of our 20th anniversary season. It challenged my personal inclination to side with Dr. Faustus and his argument that mankind is best ruled by reason and rational thought. I was surprised that I was drawn to, and even inspired by, the spirituality of Martin Luther's character. Not only is the play's central conflict an important issue in our time, but the conflict is expressed by utilizing theatre's great strengths. In today's media-driven, cyber-saturated world, audiences crave the sense of community and human connection that theatre is uniquely qualified to offer.

Creative Team:

Director:J. R. Sullivan
Set Design:Michael Phillipi
Lighting Design:Michael Phillipi
Sound Design:Jorge Cousineau
Costume Design:Liz Covey
Cast:Martin Luther - Greg Wood
Dr. Faustus - Scott Greer

Additional Funders:

Independence Foundation, Honorary Producer

Subsequent Productions:

Perseverance Theatre in Douglas, Alaska - January 9-February 1, 2009
Orlando Shakespeare Theater - January 21-February 15, 2009
B Street Theatre in Sacramento, California - September 21- November 2, 2008

News

In the press:

“This version of Wittenberg is a happening place — Faustus making like Bob Dylan at a saloon called the Bunghole, Hamlet sweating over an impending tennis match against a guy named Laertes, Luther hopped up on a new brew called coffee.”
- Orlando Sentinal

“This play’s unorthodox approach makes it well worth seeing. A unique take on historical events with illustrious characters will surely tickle your curiosity as well as your funny bone.”
- Juneau Empire

Wittenberg is a play for smart people, full of historical and literary references used, often, in very funny ways.”
- Phillyist

 

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