Dr. Faustus

A Tarumba

by Christopher Marlowe


The first show by Tarumba was “Dr. Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe. It had its debut at Teatro da Trindade on 2nd December 1994, in the 7th edition of the Autumn Festivals.


Until 1996, “Dr. Faustus” was continuously presented in several spaces in the country. It was also on tour within a special programme from the Portuguese Ministry of Culture. In Lisbon, it was also presented at Teatro O Bando (the former “Sala Estrela 60”) where it was part of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s programme “Theatre once a month”. In Sociedade Boa União, in Alfama, the show stayed for several seasons, always sold out. In 1996 “Dr. Faustus” was presented at Casa das Artes, within the Oporto International Puppet Festival - Festival Internacional de Marionetas do Porto.

The staging was conceived for a set of twelve string puppets, telling the legendary story of the famous German magician from obscure origin, “Johann” or “George Faust”.


Thanks to Mephistopheles, he can do anything and he lives an opulent life, served by invisible spirits. “Learn now of me to make the clouds to rend the earth; and craggy rocks to shake and splint in sunder; the seas to swell and roar, and overrun their marks... Learn, Faustus, to fly like myself, as swift as thought from one kingdom to another.”

Wooden actors, marvellously dressed, animated by complex systems of strings: they have filled audiences making the public confuse them with real actors, sharing the joy, the sorrow, the sadness, the happiness and Faustus’s drama.

"The absolute novelty in Lisbon and in the Autumn Festivals was the debut, on 2nd December, of Dr. Faustus by Tarumba. (...) Some of the puppeteers from Tarumba come from Marionetas de S. Lourenço but they did not bring into the new group the manipulation technique from Helena Vaz and José Alberto Gil (...). They are unique and effectively manipulated by strings (...). The text in which the show is supported upon is from the Elizabethan Marlowe and it finishes with Faustus regretting his actions and it does not include the character Margaret. However, it has two gracious clown that give the play a certain didactics component. The spectator is left with three opportunities (...) to watch this group that presents itself with a strong image (...) and it searches for a demanding refined adult spectator. Let’s hope it will find him."
-Manuel João Gomes (Público, 9th December 1994)


"Up to the next 23rd you can still watch, at sala studio in Teatro da Trindade, this play by Marlowe, in its puppet version. The Tarumba (...) is to be congratulated because it was able to tell the story of a man for whom everything is possible because he has sold his soul to Lucifer, and he has got Mephistopheles to accomplish everything he wants. When Lucifer comes to get him, Faustus regrets his decision but it is too late... The show excels in quality, not only because of the good manipulation of the puppets, but also because of the simple and effective scenic solutions: soap bubbles, proper use of scenic space and the appearance of a small white mouse that gives Dr. Faustus’s laboratory its credibility. Because of its timetable, 7.15 pm, this play can be watched by the whole family. Children will certainly enjoy the puppets and adults can admire a show where text and staging are in perfect balance. Not to be missed."
-Semanário (December 1994)


"We have seen Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) by the new company A Tarumba, a puppet group that has members from the missed Companhia de Marionetas de São Lourenço. It is an effective show, with ambiance, great technical and artistic level, with excellent staging and direction by Luís Vieira (...)."
-Fernando Midões (Diário de Notícias, December 1994)


"In Alfama, A Tarumba resumes the scenic traditions from Boa União - a group with a lot of practice in puppet manipulation - and returns Dr. Faustus to stage. Until the end of the year."
-Manuel João Gomes (Público - Caderno Zap, 22nd December 1995)



Artistic direction, concept, scenography, musical adaptation and puppets: Luís Vieira Puppeteers: Margarida Rodrigues, Fernanda Cruz, Rute Ribeiro, Luís Vieira Props and scene assistance: António Lino, Valdemar Pinto Design and costumes: João Cardoso, Luís Vieira Seamstress: Elvira Martins Lighting and sound operation: Paulo Figueiredo / João Lencart e Silva Photography: Alípio Padilha, Luís Vieira Technique: String puppets