Speakeasy with Timothy Hand of Digital Faust

Thinking about selling your soul? With the economy the way it is, it's probably a better deal than what the banks are offering, but you still might want to think twice. Local actor Timothy Hand has been working with the Vanguard Artist Alliance to update the original deal-with-the-devil tale. He premieres his one-man show Digital Faust Wed.-Thurs., March 18-19 at Eyedrum. Local musicians Track, Brown Recluse, and Noci the Misfit have lent a hand with the music, and will perform after the show on Thursday.

How long has Vanguard Artist Alliance been working on Digital Faust?
The VAA has been working on this show for about two months. It was inspired by a production I saw at the London International Mime Festival this past January at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London. I go to the festival every year for inspiration and to see what the rest of the world is doing with theatre. The Russian troupe Akhe Engineering Theatre's production of Faust³: 2360 Words directed by Yana Tumina, was a new Faust story. It made me want to create my own incarnation of the tale, one that was a 21st-century interpretation.

In the creation process, I had been talking with Phillip DePoy about the idea. Phillip is an Atlanta theatre institution; he's been around for decades and knows what it's like beginning your career as an artist and what that means. I've been bouncing ideas off of him as well as other artists I know, both theatrical and otherwise, to sort of temper this production. Mind you, this is the VAA's first official production and is really important to all of us in the organization.

What should people expect to see when they go to Digital Faust?
This is not really "traditional" theater. As I was developing this show, I had a difficult time in the beginning but I realize that I was coming at it from the wrong angle. This piece does not use the guiding precepts of theater, laid down by Aristotle's Poetics. They just don't work for this type of thing. So, I started approaching it as an art installation. I began to look at the works of artists like Nam June Paik and Ann Hamilton, both of whom are amazing visual artists. The set consists of old TVs, broken computers and ceremonial candles. Likewise, most of the lighting comes from the set as well. The idea is to create a sense of space, a sense of environment. This is Faust's hell, a world of derelict and useless technology, and the audience is invited in for a time.

Did anyone sell their soul to make Digital Faust happen?
No, nothing so extreme. But I would say that there is a certain commitment to this and any production that is necessary. Much sacrifice has to be made to create art; sometimes that means separating yourself from the world for a while, but you should always come back. It is, after all, where we as artists get our inspiration and is a pretty cool place sometimes.

As a side note, I would also like to mention that the VAA is donating all of its profits from this production to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Our guiding principle is "Inspiration through art, Revolution through action." The idea is that art is not revolution and doesn't change anything by itself. It is only the inspiration for change. The only way society progresses is by people doing something, by taking action. So, it is important for us to take responsibility as artists and do something, even if it is something as small as donations.

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