Hyperallergic John Sherer raves about Faust 3, The Turd Coming or the Fart of the Deal in this June 26, 2017 review.
FAUST 3 FEATURED IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
FAUST 3 FEATURED ON THE COVER OF THE ARTS SECTION
Review: Can Trump Survive in Caesar’s Palace?
By JESSE GREEN JUNE 9, 2017
Gregg Henry as the title character in “Julius Caesar” and Tina Benko as his wife, Calpurnia, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Hang on to your comb-over because the theatrical Trump storm is now approaching gale force.
Hartford Stage’s recent revival of George Bernard Shaw’s “Heartbreak House” dressed that play’s pathetic bully character in a bright yellow wig. Robert Schenkkan’s “Building the Wall” imagined President Trump’s presiding over a near-term dystopia of immigrant concentration camps. Opening soon is a shrewdly timed adaptation of George Orwell’s “1984”; Michael Moore arrives later this summer blowing Broadway-size spitballs at the White House.
Must I also mention “Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal,” a satire of Mr. Trump performed by a company of clowns? I must.
New York Times, June 9, 2017
STAGEBUDDY - JUNE 24, 2017
Review: Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal
"Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal" by Paul David Young, a satire of the Trump fiasco performed by an ensemble of four clowns, presented by Skylight Productions from June 11 to 26 at Judson Memorial Church, NYC, directed by Augustus Heagerty. Ayun Halliday. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
If you had no information other than the title, I bet you could easily guess what Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal is about. However, it would probably be more difficult for you, as it was for me, to anticipate its brilliance. It has “turd” and “fart” in the title—it’s got to be a half-drunk, improvised parody, right? Add to that the fact that it takes place in a church gym and that the characters are actual clowns, and you’d have no idea what was coming for you. But this is experimental, Brechtian, political theater done right, with every millisecond of the hour-long performance packed with nuance and perspicacity. If you’re not prepared, as I wasn’t, it’ll likely knock you backwards like the forceful flatulence of the almighty Clown King.
The play’s description and playwright bio give the first clues to the layers of detail and sheer artistry in store. Playwright Paul David Young has a list of academic and artistic achievements taller than 725 5th Ave. His brilliance got him into, and evolved at, Yale University, Columbia Law School, and the New School for Drama. If that’s not enough, he was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany where he likely got to know the history and interpretations of the dark, Germanic origins of Faust, upon which this play is flawlessly built. Young was also inspired by the dark poetry of plays of Heiner Müller, particularly his Shakespearean adaptations. Young writes of Faust 3: “Müller is cavalier about punctuation, which is a special offense in German, where all nouns are capitalized. Müller often uses all caps, or, deviating in the other direction, lower case for everything…I popped on the CAPS LOCK and the play flew out of me.”
The relationship with CAPS LOCK is not the only obvious connection to America’s current Clown King (check Twitter if you’re unclear what I mean); Faust refers to various plays, stories and possibly real people all following the theme of someone trading their soul to the Devil for power, riches and the other usual fare—the titular fartful deal. In Faust 3 (parts 1 and 2 came from Goethe and both involve the character Faust making a deal with the Devil for a better life, forgetting from part 1 to part 2 how badly it went the first time), four clowns in white face represent the citizens of the United States who’ve made a deal with the Devil in electing the Clown King, you-know-who. The theme of trading one’s soul with the Devil is therefore applicable twofold, applying to a man who would do anything for power and recognition, and a population (or subsect of it) who would elect and support someone whom many others consider evil, or, at the very least, disastrously incompetent. Of course, as with most the-Devil-gets-your-soul stories, this one doesn’t end well for the Clown King’s worshippers; but, I won’t give everything away.
The characters never name Donald Trump directly, which recalls various religious laws forbidding taking a deity’s name in vain, depicting a likeness of the deity, or, specifically not saying the deity’s name aloud. The religious themes are everywhere, starting with the setting, which is absolutely on point. The performance space is in the Meeting Room of Judson Memorial Church, right across from Washington Square Park. The audience sits facing towering stained glass windows in the historical landmark church, while clown characters spend most of their time in church robes, the choir preaching, echoing and relishing the Clown King’s every word. The Clown King’s followers constantly ask him to shit on them, shit into their mouths, “the Eucharist of the chosen one.” In a way, this is who we’ve all become, even those who didn’t vote for him. We are a national audience waiting for Trump’s reactions, his tweets, and the headlines about him. We hang on every word, analyzing each ellipses and quotation mark, and he knows it. Covfefe, anyone? That is what this piece showed beautifully and ominously: we are a hungry nation feeding on his verbal diarrhea.
“Take the shit and eat,” this is my bowel, moved for you.
The text is as densely packed as the play’s description, such that this one-hour performance with no intermission could have comfortably been stretched into two hours. The clowns’ performances and the pace of the play reflect the desperation of the time they (we) are living in; as the play ramped up, they weaved precariously around each other and crowded purposefully close together, keeping one another, along with the audience, perpetually on edge. With the speed of the Internet and social media, and the amount of news that is continually packed into each 24-hour cycle, the choices for the production were just as brilliant and relevant as the text of the play itself.
The production is directed by Augustus Heagerty who perfectly interprets Young’s piece and its necessity to our moment in time. Scott Isensee dresses the white faced clowns in purple and gold robes, a hat tip, undoubtedly, to the royal presumption and crass gold preferred by our real life Clown King himself. Jarrod Beck minimally transforms the treasured church space, with ragged cloths and benches to distinguish the playing space. One moment that was lost on me was Beck’s mechanical dog, which was wheeled out mid-show as the clowns, now transformed into business casual pundits, spoke in horse-race reporting fashion. In the original stories, a dog transforms into the Devil, Mephistopheles; but, I would not have understood that moment if I hadn’t looked it up later. The design, however, absolutely fit with the found-space theme, also adding a steam-punk mechanicalness giving the air of dystopia. Kia Rogers executes sharp, ominous lighting work, drawing the audience’s eye as well as enhancing the emotional moments skillfully. Center-stage, continually behind the players, was a large television screen for which Melissa Friedling designed video projects that offered visual distortions that once again perfectly interpreted the show. There were moments where the clowns are exploding with poetic lines about getting drenched in fecal matter and on the screen a commercial machine plops out batter for some sort of gooey dessert; another moment overlaid authoritarian-style marching soldiers with what appeared to be Trump emerging and waving from a car as if in a parade.
As an audience member, and a writer, I was, honestly, most taken with the language; this was mostly to do with the eloquent crudeness of it. There were puns on four syllable words, poetry in pooping. I filled 20-pages of my pocket-sized notebook mostly with lines I didn’t want to forget. There were so many anachronistic references that they became no longer anachronistic, in the way that can only be true in the Internet age. It was a collage of references, a 15th-century poem about 21st-century turbulence—or should I say turd-ulance? There were the distorted beatitudes (“BLESSED ARE THE RICH FOR THEY DESERVE IT ALL”) and passing references like “Hate in the Time of Cholera.” For me, this reflected the patterns throughout history that have led us to where we are, as well as the continuous desperate scramble so many of us have been involved in since November in just trying to make sense of…anything.
The worst thing is that the people who could get the most out of this show won’t be able to see it, and probably wouldn’t choose to if they could. It should be taught in classrooms, if I’m honest; high-schoolers love a good poop joke, if memory serves. The play closes June 26th; but, hopefully this won’t be the last of it. It will certainly retain its precise and beautifully rendered relevance well-past the end of Trump’s presidency; or, as the clowns say, his “leader-shit.” Then, of course, there’s always a chance another Trumpian event will occur, like if he’s actually impeached but merely replaced with a puppet as the new “leader of the bowel movement.” Whatever the occasion, this was one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve had in my nearly 30 years regardless of its absolute timeliness and I encourage all who can to see it, and I encourage its producers to revive it as quickly as possible. After all, “The shit has hit the fan for real,” and seems only likely to continue to do so.
Written by: Leanna Childers
Downtown in the East Village, two theaters with roots in the counterculture of the 1960s are sponsoring Bad and Nasty productions. Catch Jessica Litwak in “My Heart Is In the East: An Interfaith Poetic Exploration” at LaMama ETC and Paul David Young’s “Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal,” a political satire of the Trump fiasco performed by an ensemble of four clowns at Judson Memorial Church. “Faust 3” stars Ayun Halliday, Aiden O’Shea, Regina Strayhorn and Ben Watts and is directed by Augustus Heagerty.
From: " Flag Day is Donald Trump’s 71st Birthday: Give Him the Bash He So Bigly Deserves"
Huffington Post, June 12, 2017
THE FRONT ROW CENTER
"The press release describes a “political satire of the Trump fiasco performed by an ensemble of four clowns,…” and these clowns are magnificent. Ayun Halliday, Aidan O’Shea, Regina Strayhorn, and Ben Watts are each original, definable, and endearingly arch.
"Clowns have their bits — she (Regina Strayhorn) sings from her toes and plays her weight for fun. He (Ben Watts) smirks, even simpers and uses his lithe physicality to shepherd the group. She(Ayun Halliday) insinuates herself with the audience — she is us then she is them. He (Aidan O’Shea) does a stagey bit, working the Irish/English accent for Old Vic authority but shows a silly side into the bargain. Add to that, they are very much an ensemble; that is, they are working parts of a single entity. Director Augustus Heagerty holds the whip and the chair credentials there.
"Here’s the thing, if you hanker for an edgy, “out there” hour in the Village this bizarre little Trumpian gag-fest (and I do mean gag) is your show!"
Front Row Center: Bold, Biased, and Brief
Posted By Kathleen Campion on Jun 15, 2017
THEATER IS EASY
"There are some strange and amusing moments in Faust 3. It's very intelligent and the connections it draws between Donald Trump and Mephistopheles, the demon of Faustian legend, are spot on."
"I learned quickly that this wouldn't be a conventional play, but there was a game being played and the rules hadn't been explained to me. There are a couple spontaneous shifts in tone where the direction of things seems to change, just raising more questions about exactly what I'm watching. The language throughout is poetic and visceral, and the cast really commits to relishing their degradation . . . ."
by Aiden Dreskin on 6.15.17
TIME OUT NEW YORK: PRINT AND ONLINE
"A clown king manipulates and demeans a gullible populace in Paul David Young's over-the-top political satire, staged site-specifically in a Judson Church sanctuary. Augustus Haegerty directs the piece, which borrows liberally from Goethe, Shakespeare, Yeats, Donne and other literary lions."
THE VILLAGE VOICE: IN PRINT RECOMMENDED IN "VILLAGE VOICE CHOICES" ***
Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal
If the onstage assassination of a Donald Trump–resembling Julius Caesar in the Public Theater’s latest Shakespeare in the Park production strikes you as overly subtle, then maybe you’d prefer this wild “satire of the Trump fiasco” by Paul David Young. An irreverent jumble of Goethe, the gospels, politics, and poop jokes, it’s the tale of a lying, self-loving, Twitter-happy clown king who promises to save the world but causes a nuclear apocalypse instead. The charlatan seizes power when the downtrodden populace makes a Faustian pact with him, selling their souls and winding up in the toilet. Young says he wrote the script in all caps, which seems fitting for our unhinged times. Augustus Heagerty’s production features a cast of four clowns in whiteface — though shouldn’t at least one of those faces be orange?
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Paul David Young’s Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal at Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South, New York, NY
Friday, June 16, 10 pm; $; Augustus Heagerty: Director; Jarrod Beck: Scenic Design and Props; Kia Rogers: Lighting Design; Melissa Friedling: Video
FAUST 3: THE TURD COMING, OR THE FART OF THE DEAL to Satirize Trump Fiasco Onstage This June
"Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal" by Paul David Young, a political satire of the Trump fiasco performed by an ensemble of four clowns, will have its world premiere June 11 to 26 in The Meeting Room of Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, presented by Skylight Productions. Augustus Heagerty directs.
The play presents a Faustian bargain between the populace, and their chosen king, a deceptive, Mephisophelean clown figure. Although the clown is offensive, vulgar, and evil, the people agree to sign away their future on the gamble that the clown will improve their lives. They are shat upon instead. In sermon-like tweets, the clown king communicates his predatory intentions, based on perversions of the Beatitudes ("BLESSED ARE THE RICH FOR THEY DESERVE IT ALL") and other parts of the Gospels. The sensitive ego of the clown king leads to nuclear war and worldwide devastation.
The script adapts and mangles Goethe's "Faust" (Parts 1 and 2) and the Gospels in the King James translation, as well as bits of Yeats, Shakespeare, Christmas carols, Stephen Foster, John Donne, Heiner Müller, Julia Ward Howe, Abel Meeropol, and others.
The performance will take place in the found environment of the Meeting Room, a landmarked Neo-Renaissance sanctuary designed by architect Stanford White and sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens, with the largest collection of John Lafarge staiNed Glass windows in the world. The actors will use microphones as they move about the space, speaking directly to the live audience. With demonic evangelism, they will also sing, dance, and perform tricks and mock religious rituals while celebrating the clown king. Music will include drums, melodica, recorded music (classical to pop), Christian anthems, Christmas Carols and computer-generated sound.
The actors/clowns are Ayun Halliday, Aiden O'Shea, Regina Strayhorn and Ben Watts. Lighting design is by Kia Rogers. Costume design is by Scout Isensee. Scenic and prop design are by Jarrod Beck. Video projections are by Melissa Friedling.
IF YOU GO:
June 11 to 26, 2017
The Meeting Room of Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South
Presented by Skylight ProductionsSunday, June 11@ 9:30 pm; Monday, June 12 @ 9:30 pm; Thursday, June 15 @ 9:30 pm; Friday, June 16 @ 10:00 pm; Sunday, June 18 @ 9:30 pm; Monday, June 19 @ 9:30 pm; Thursday, June 22 @ 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm; Friday, June 23 @ 11:00 pm; Saturday, June 25 @ 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm; Monday, June 26 @ 9:30 pm.
Tickets $25. Box office: 800-838-3006 (Brown Paper Tickets), www.brownpapertickets.com
Show's website: www.faust3theturdcoming.com
Running time: 60 min. Critics are invited on or after June 12.
Playwright Paul David Young is author, most recently, of "Kentucky Cantata" (HERE, 2015). His "In the Summer Pavilion," a Backstage Critic's Pick, was hailed by critic Eric Haagenson as a highlight of the 2011 NY International Fringe Festival. It was subsequently produced Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters in 2012. His "Clown Play" (2013 New York International Fringe Festival) was hailed by The Village Voice as "intelligently bizarre." His "No One But You" won the Kennedy Center's Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and was a finalist for the Kendeda Fellowship. His one-act, "Aporia," was a finalist for the Kennedy Center's John Cauble Short Play Award. Another short play, "Christians Having Sex in Silence," was a semifinalist in the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival in 2011. His work has also been performed at MoMA PS1, Marlborough Gallery, Living Theatre, apexart, The Brick, LMAK Projects, Lion Theatre, C.O.W. Theater, Kraine Theater, Chain Theatre, Emerging Artists Theatre, Red Room, and Kaffileikhusid in Reykjavik. His translations, with Carl Weber, of Heiner Müller's "Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome" and "Macbeth" were published in 2012. He is a Contributing Editor at PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (MIT Press). He also writes for Art in America and Hyperallergic. His book newARTtheatre: Evolutions of the Performance Aesthetic, about visual artists appropriating theatre, was issued by PAJ in 2014. He is a graduate of Yale University (Phi Beta Kappa), Columbia Law School (Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar), and the New School for Drama (MFA Playwriting) and was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. Among his residencies was LMCC's five-month Process Space residency on Governors Island in 2015, where he conceived and performed "Curtain Wall Part 3: An Immersive Landscape Theater Performance of Christopher Marlowe's Hero and Leander," in which he swam across New York Harbor.
"Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal," like many of the dark, poetic plays of Heiner Müller and the savagely funny dramas of Elfriede Jelinek, has no fixed characters. Like Müller's Shakespeare adaptations that the playwright worked on, its text is in iambic pentameter, but the play will not be spoken as verse. "The blank verse," writes Young, "was just a way for me to write the play and form it." The script is mostly written in all-caps. In his author's notes, Young writes, "Müller is cavalier about punctuation, which is a special offense in German, where all nouns are capitalized. Müller often uses all caps, or, deviating in the other direction, lower case for everything....I popped on the CAPS LOCK and the play flew out of me."
The concept of the clown was also integral for him. Young writes, "In working on the translation of Müller's 'Titus,' I had become very interested in how the clown figure functioned in Müller's play and in Shakespeare's version. The tradition of the fool goes back to time immemorial, and plays a significant role in Shakespeare. The clown can speak truth to power in classic texts. So it is in 'Faust 3.'"
Director Augustus Heagerty recently staged "Fade to White" by Franco Giocomarra at Fordham University. Regionally, he has developed and directed plays for Burning Coal Theatre, American Theatre Company, National Players @ OlneyTheatre Center, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, (D.C.), Source Festival and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. He was Assistant Director for the Shakespeare TheatreCompany (D.C.) for three seasons, where he assisted over thirteen productions, and was a 2010 Kenan Directing Fellow at the Kennedy Center.
Melissa Friedling (video projections) is a film and video artist, writer, and commercial web video producer and Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies at the New School. Her creative work has been selected for numerous international festivals and has also been presented in galleries and museums including PS1 MoMA, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center (Buffalo), The Athens Institute for Contemporary Art (Athens, GA), and Apex Art (NYC). She has been an artist in residence at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (NYC) and is the recipient of a Fulbright Award and artist's grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the New York State Council for the Arts.
Jarrod Beck (scenic and prop design) is an installation artist, printmaker and sculptor. He has created outdoor sculptures for Socrates Sculpture Park (Astoria, NY), Sara D. Roosevelt Park (NYC), Calder Plaza (Grand Rapids, MI) and the Anti-Defamation League (Omaha, NE); installations at Wave Hill, South Street Seaport Museum, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Instituto Cervantes, Rhode Island School of Design, Stony Brook University, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Cape Cod National Seashore and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. His drawings are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. His recent collaborations include an installation for performance artist John Kelly's "Love of a Poet" and a series of prop-sculptures for the choreographer Jon Kinzel.
The ensemble members are a witches' brew of crazy talents, including deep experience in movement, improvisation, and clowning. Ayun Halliday was a member of the Neo-Futurists from 1989 to 1998 and was co-founder of Theater of the Apes. She is a 2017 Target Margin Theater Institute Fellow. Regina Strayhorn has performed at EST, Dixon Place, The Secret Theatre and Lincoln Center. As her alter-ego Clarissa, she fronts a band, Bandits on the Run, whose debut album, The Criminal Record, was released in March 2017. Aiden O'Shea performed with The Pickle Family Circus from 1992 to 2005 and teaches movement and acrobatics in schools across the nation. Ben Watts, who danced with Daniel West Dance Company, Laura Dean Dancers, Marta Renzi, Lance Gries, and Howard Fireheart, now appears regularly with Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre.
Pictured: Ben Watts (ensemble). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.