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Los Faustinos: A Community-Based Theater Essay

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Updated: Apr 12th, 2022

Interpretations rarely happen to be exciting, mostly because they render the source material that has already been well trodden by at least one author. The given rule, however, does not apply to Faust, seeing how the timeless classic story has become an inspiration for a number of amazing works of literature.

Speaking of the latter, Los Faustinos must be the least remembered of them, which is truly a shame, since the play offers a very interesting social commentary on the present-day political structure of most states. By using a unique methodology and incorporating the elements of a community-based theater, the author of the play managed to make the idea of the government assuming the role of Methesto, or Mephistopheles.

First and most obvious, Solano mixes the elements of two cultures in order to capture the specifics of the Los Angeles reality and trick the audience into paying attention: “Lucha constante y dolorosa./Pain and struggle burning through the night” (Solano, 1994, p. 2).

Although, much like the plot and the concept of the play, the given approach is not new, it works relatively well in the play, since it does not turn the atmosphere into something out of the ordinary and, therefore, does not shift the emphasis from the focus of the play, i.e., the social issues and the conflict between the authorities and the citizens.

Solano’s symbolism is also a strikingly simple yet very efficient method of conveying the key idea of the play. For example, the price that the Faustinos clan pays for the soul of each member is embarrassingly consumerist. Methesto buys the souls of the family members at quite a bargain by offering them a computer, a TV-set, etc.: “I’m going to give you this computer” (Solano, 1994, p. 28).

Another method used by Solano that can be defined as very efficient, though hardly subtle, is the use of the so called community theater, or community-based theater. Despite the fact that the given means of getting the message across makes it too on-the-nose, it still helps enhance the key concern to the point where the latter cannot be ignored anymore.

For example, the fact that Solano often mentions the threats of living in the Los Angeles community is worth bringing up as the basic means of persuasion: “It’s just that, no se, I get tired of being looked at funny because of where I live. Just saying the words East Los Angeles makes people think you’ve got a gun in your pocket” (Solano, 1994, p. 8).

While Solano often exaggerates in order to create the surreal, postmodern atmosphere in his play, he still succumbs to depicting the flaws of society as the laws of satire demand – and, much to his credit, he clearly succeeds in this task.

While the idea of basing a play on the interactions between a representative of the netherworld and a human being is not new and was, in fact, started way before Goethe came up with his Faust, updating the play and adding a touch of social topicality to it by making the government play the role of Mephistopheles is admittedly clever.

By using an entirely new method of getting his message across, i.e., reinventing Faust to represent the concerns of the modern society, Bernardo Solano has definitely creates something new and exciting. More to the point, Solano should be given credit for using the elements of a community-based theater in his work. An overall well-written play and a very smart concept, los Faustinos is definitely worth being given a check.


Solano, B. (1994). Los Faustinos (Juliette Carrillo, Ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Community Theater.

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