Critical Essays Stage Performance


The first recorded stage performance of Doctor Faustus took place at the Rose Theater on September 30, 1594, under the direction of the Admiral's Men. No records of performance before 1594 have remained, but the play probably had been produced a number of times before the 1594 production, for Henslowe, the owner of the Rose Theater, did not list it as a new play in his records. The date of the original production has been speculated to be either 1589 or 1592.

Henslowe, who kept a diary and record of all the plays he bought and produced, indicates that the play was frequently produced and that it brought in a sizable profit each time it was performed. It was produced twenty-four times between 1594 and 1597, at which time it diminished in popularity. The next revival of the play was in 1602, when Henslowe paid Bird and Rowley four pounds to write additions to the play (see section on Textual Problems).

Because of all the frequent contemporary allusions to the play in many works of this period, it is evident that Doctor Faustus was one of the most popular plays staged during this period. The drama has had frequent revivals in each century since the Elizabethan age and is considered one of the world's most famous plays today.

There are many stories connected with the productions of Faustus. One of the tales concerns the great Elizabethan actor Edward Alleyn, who portrayed Faustus. The legend tells that his retirement from the stage was the result of having a real devil appear during one of the conjurations scenes while performing the role of Dr. Faustus.

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