If reading Ulysses every Bloomsday is just ordinary homage to the genius of James Joyce, what could Faust enthusiasts possibly do to mark Johann Wolfgang von Goëthe's 250th birthday? Try the Faustathon, a 16-hour staged reading of Faust, Parts 1 and 2. The first part of Goëthe's play about a frustrated alchemist promising his soul to the devil is so mythic, so self-contained, and so long, that most theater companies leave their audiences to read Part 2 for themselves. But David Catanzarite, a new member of the faculty at USF, is organizing a string of actors and readers to recite the whole epic work, in English, from Faust's bargain with Mephistopheles through his final salvation by angels. What happens in between is as profoundly weird as anything ever written for the stage.
Except for a midnight concert by mezzo-soprano Joyce Todd, who sings Schubert lieder from Goëthe, the reading will slog nonstop from 8 p.m. Friday until noon on Saturday, which is Goëthe's birthday. R&B by Dream Forward kicks off the celebration at 7 p.m. Friday at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley. Admission is free, so the curious can come and go as they please, but donations for Upward Bound, a USF program to help disadvantaged kids get into college, will be freely accepted; call 336-8018. Actors interested in reciting some part of the play can call Catanzarite at 422-5703.