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Director says Goethe's tragic play 'Faust' still relevant today

Entertainment 17:22 March 21, 2023

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- Goethe's tragic play "Faust" can still resonate with people of today, as the classic masterpiece examines the essence of human nature and existential dilemma, the director of its adapted play said Tuesday.

"Faust" tells the story of a scholar named Faust, who is unsatisfied with his life, and seeks to understand the nature of existence. Mephistopheles appears to him, offering him the opportunity to experience earthly pleasures and adventure in exchange for his soul.

In the upcoming play set to run at LG Arts Center Seoul from March 31 to April 29, veteran actor Yoo In-chon plays the old Faust, and Park Eun-seok appears as the young Faust.

Actor Yoo In-chon plays Faust, the titular character of Goethe's tragic play "Faust," during a preview session held at LG Arts Seoul in the capital on March 21, 2022. (Yonhap)

Actor Yoo In-chon plays Faust, the titular character of Goethe's tragic play "Faust," during a preview session held at LG Arts Seoul in the capital on March 21, 2022. (Yonhap)

Park Hae-soo, known for his roles in Netflix dramas "Squid Game," "Narco-Saints" and "Money Heist," performs the role of Mephistopheles in his first performance for a theatrical play in five years.

Director Yang Jung-ung said he tried to faithfully represent the original text with modern touches of theatrical settings, including giant LED screens, to portray the atmosphere of mixed reality and fantasy.

"Classics go beyond time, space, culture and language, as they deal well with human universality and essence," Yang said in a press conference after a preview session held at LG Arts Center Seoul.

Yang said the masterpiece skillfully captures the ironic and contradictory parts of human desire and temptations for its material.

"Goethe's Mephistopheles' lines and Faust's contemplations precisely express the modern human dilemma, and we tried to interpret them in a modern way," Yang said.

Yoo, who played Mephistopheles in a 1997 work, said staging the tragic drama is meaningful, as its central theme of human nature and the relationship between humans and God transcends time.

"'Faust' is not only a play but also a mirror that reflects our time," the 72-year-old actor said. "When Goethe wrote this work, he brought past stories to present ones. Ultimately, it is a play that shows the future."

Park Hae-soo, who had drawn acclaim for his stage acting since his theatrical debut with "Annapurna" (2007) before his fame in films and television series, said he enjoyed spending months practicing with his colleagues and learned a lot from them.

Actor Park Hae-soo plays Mephistopheles, the devil character in Goethe's tragic play "Faust," during a preview session held at LG Arts Seoul in the capital on March 21, 2022. (Yonhap)

Actor Park Hae-soo plays Mephistopheles, the devil character in Goethe's tragic play "Faust," during a preview session held at LG Arts Seoul in the capital on March 21, 2022. (Yonhap)

"As I began my acting career with a theatrical play, I accepted the role without hesitation," Park said.

Although Mephistopheles is a devil who tempts Faust to sell his soul for earthly pleasures, Park said he tried to focus on the banality of evil and the motivations behind their behavior.

"Although it is a classic, there are many scenes created with free imagination as if we were 10 years old. We did not make it difficult, so it can be easily accessible to audiences," he said.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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