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TO STRIVE OR STAND STILL:

An Interview with Alison Darcy

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By Julia Edelman

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The Montréal Review, May 2013

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From May 1st to May 5th, 2013 at Segal Centre

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When I spoke with Alison on Thursday, April 25th, she had just begun directing Faust on Tuesday. Faust is so lengthy it can be performed for two days straight, but it is condensed into two hours and made into a workshop production, meaning it is developed for only a week, and then performed for an audience. Adapted by Alison Darcy and Joseph Shragge, and directed by Alison Darcy, Faust questions the nature of one's identity when searching for a sense of accomplishment.

Alison is a National Theatre School of Canada graduate and the co-founder and co-artistic director of Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre. As well as directing, producing, dramaturging and teaching theatre,  Alison  has been acting professionally since she  was eight years old. When I called her on Thursday, we spoke about the metaphysics of Faust, the first time she was introduced to Faust, and the concept of “striving.”

--Julia Edelman

ALISON DARCY

Julia Edelman: So why is this a workshop production?

Alison Darcy: Joseph Shragge and I have adapted from both Part One and Part Two of Faust. It took Goethe sixty years to write this epic piece. We believe the script needs a certain amount of time to breathe and develop, so this is just the first stage, and eventually it will be a full-scale production.

JE: When did you first read Faust?

AD: There are so many different versions of it. I was aware of the story from back when I was a kid. My mother actually directed a version of it, Doctor Faustus, at the Centaur, years and years ago. I then read a version that Mamet had written, which was a really great little play, so that turned me onto the idea again. It inspired me to look into the story more, and get more detailed. But it was also at the urging of my co-artistic director, Joseph Shragge, because I had mentioned to him that I read the Mamet version, so he wanted to take a look at it.

JE: What made you want to start your own theatre company, the Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre, in 2006?

AD: It started up with Joseph Shragge, Melanie St. Jacques and I. Ultimately, theatre in Montreal has a lot of limitations, because we don't have that big of an audience here, and also being Anglophone. Often you have to do a lot of work that you don't necessarily care about just to make ends meet. I guess I wanted to explore making my own work, to do things that really inspired me.

JE: The Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre Company page mentions that your adaptation covers Faust Part One, as well as its “rarely touched upon sequel.” What attracted you to the sequel, and why do you think there is less emphasis on it?

AD: Usually only the first part is performed in the theatre because it's a straightforward storyline and it all takes place in Germany. Part Two is like The Odyssey; they travel all over the world to a billion different locations, there are all these crazy characters, and it is super-fantastical and wild. People stay away from it, because it's too big of an undertaking, also metaphysically. It's a hard work to even understand. So people are wary of taking on Book Two, but we decided to take it on as a challenge.

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Julia Edelman is a writer and filmmaker from New York who lives in Montreal, Quebec. She currently works for The Believer and is a contributing editor for The Montreal Review. You can find more of her work at http://northernplights. wordpress.com/

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