Behind the Scenes

Creating a production doesn’t happen overnight. The director doesn’t just snap his fingers and the end product appears. It takes weeks of planning, designing, and hard work. Here you can see some of the inner-workings of our show, a behind the scenes tour if you will. This will be updated regularly until the show begins.


Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights is a challenging show, forcing most of our actors and actresses out of their comfort zones. We’re also lucky enough to have dancers work along side us, all actors in their own right. They’ve done a fantastic job keeping open minds and everything is coming together quite nicely.

Rehearsal photos:

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Arts Alive Popups:

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MIHA’s solo (Steele Severson):


Our Costume Designer, Nao Kobayashi, has created preliminary costume renderings. She is continuing to work on them and we will share the renderings as the develop. For Doctor Faustus, Director Peter Cirino asked Nao to think about a look that drew upon classic menswear but could be appropriate to several different moments in time. Inspired and developed with the concepts of butoh–a form of Japanese dance–Mephisto’s costume is an indication that the Devil is waiting for us to be touched and moved, and realize our power as human beings. The Marguerite-Ida Helena Annabelle (MIHA) character has an androgynous look. Our production will use a chorus of dancers to help convey the beautiful, melodic language of Stein’s piece.

First Renderings:

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Second Rendering:

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Final Renderings:

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Scenic Design

Our Set Designer, Nick Pecher, is working on the setting for our production. The show will be performed in the Don Powell theatre, the larger theatre at SDSU with nearly 500 seats in the audience. The set design takes full advantage of the large stage and makes quite a statement. The playing space will accommodate live musicians, a chorus of dancers, and our iconic characters on two levels. Lighting elements will be incorporated into the setting as well to allow our Lighting Designer, Chad Shelton, many opportunities to create dramatic lighting effects.

Faustus front view


Jess Humphrey, Choreographer for Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, is a dance artist and teacher. Her movement research began in childhood with competitive gymnastics, and continues today with dancemaking from various, shifting perspectives and states of body~mind. Her dances are expressions of her engagement in contemplative and somatic practices,  Integral Theory, and her situation within the western, theatrical dance lineage.

Jess’s way of working often involves creating tasks for ​dancers to complete​ that include both poetic and procedural elements, such as: start upstage and arrive down left on your knees in 16 counts​ while feeling the unwieldy weight of an imaginary person on your right shoulder​. At times, Jess does not dictate the exact steps or shapes that a dancer will take ​”on​”​ but rather she gives her dancers agency over their own contributions to the work​. While they are exploring, she takes it “in”, asks questions, makes choices, and gives direction. J​ess oversees the work as a whole and relies on ​each dancer’s ability to listen, sense, and respond to determine ​their ​exact movements​ for ​certain segments of the piece​.​ ​This way of working​ both requires and develops​ dancers​’​ engagement and commitment to the work. ​Can you see evidence of this approach to choreography in our production​?​

Dance Rehearsal Photos:

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Dance Rehearsal Video:


Our Lighting Designer, Chad Shelton, has created beautiful lighting for our show. Chad’s lighting was featured in last year’s landmark concert production of Les Misérables here at SDSU on the very same stage. You can see Chad’s background in lighting music concerts come to the fore at moments in our production. With Pleasure Fix, our live band on stage, Shelton’s lighting provides just the kind of excitement and rush we hope will sweep over our audiences.


Raw footage filmed for the Ballet: