Annabel Harb

Tell us your Faust Story!
I kind of joined by force, actually. I was a really shy kid, and my mum wanted me to do something alongside my sister, so she signed us up. I really didn’t want to at first, but then I started to love the drama games and sketches we were doing.

Eventually, it came around to the Faust Festival. My first show was The Jungle Book with Group W, and I just loved it. I never turned back. I joined when I was 8 and did it until I couldn’t anymore at 18. Throughout my time at Faust, I’ve done an array of Festival shows. I eventually re-did The Jungle Book and joined Stage Group, where I had the chance to be part of Waiting for Godot, King Lear and The Servant of Two Masters. After Stage Group, I became an assistant leader for a year, getting to pass down the love I have for theatre in the place that first gave it to me. I also had the opportunity to be Deputy Stage Manager for Faust’s production of Peter Pan & Wendy.

What is your earliest Faust memory?
I don’t actually remember the exact details. What I do remember, though, is standing in a circle during the trial session and feeling that I would actually quite like this.

What is your favourite Faust memory?
There are many to choose from, and I think I might say something different if someone were to ask me the same question again. Right now, I would say the three years at Stage Group and, in particular, my time in King Lear. I think there was something about the drive of the room and how everyone was rooting for each other that was inspiring. We were just a tight-knit group. There were laughs, there were tears, more laughs and things in between. The play itself was also just a joy to work on. There was so much to think about and so many ways to play it. Working with a text as rich as King Lear is a gift to any performer.

What was your biggest challenge in participating and leading in drama workshops and productions?
I suppose it changed throughout my years. My biggest challenge was getting out of my comfort zone at first. I wanted to participate, but I was scared that my ideas weren’t good enough. However, the combination of growing up and practice meant that I became more confident.

The next hurdle was not that I did not think I was good enough (although some of that impostor syndrome still remained). It was that perfectionism kicked in. Rehearsal does have a way to kill it, though. Continually having to do something means that you can no longer be so precious about every little thing that you do.

The biggest challenge I found in leading drama workshops was knowing that students might be going through the same obstacles that I went through. Trying to balance giving those with already more confidence the chance to thrive further, while making sure those who feel less confident feel safe to try things out, was a juggling act. But it was so rewarding.

What did you gain from your experience at Faust as a student and / or as a leader?
I was encouraged throughout my entire time at Faust to be creative. There are so few places as we get older that allow you to do that, and I am grateful that, as an adult, I haven’t had my creativity wrung out of me. I have also become more confident: sometimes that confidence looks like throwing all my ideas in the room; sometimes it’s simply letting others speak. I have also learnt that hard work alone does not always lead to results. Doing the right kind of work for you is what is important. There is no point in spending hours creating a character’s backstory to only have that block you because you’re thinking so deeply about the details. If coming up with a super detailed backstory helps you, by all means, spend all the time you can. But ONLY if it helps you.

How did studying Drama and Theatre impact your life?
I guess based on what I’m doing with my life, the question is, ‘In what ways did it NOT have an impact?’ I have a couple ideas of what I might have wanted to do if drama and theatre weren’t in my life, but I would not have been as happy.

On a more personal level, though, studying drama has changed how I view my life and the lives of the people I encounter. It sounds super dramatic, but so much of studying drama revolves around analysing why people behave as they do. It has taught me to be more compassionate as you never fully know where someone is coming from until they tell you. Even then, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Drama gets you to learn a lot about others and, in doing so, about yourself. Getting to tell stories and analysing them has gotten me to evaluate why certain stories are ‘good’ and stand the test of time, as well as how best to tell a story. It has definitely developed my critical thinking. It has taught me to go with the flow a lot more. Life is too short to be too serious.

Some of the things you’ll have to do in drama are so ridiculous that you just have to throw yourself into it. I believe drama and theatre have helped me become the best, most open version of myself, and I am very grateful and indebted to it.

How would you describe Faust to someone new to drama and theatre?
Faust is the place where you are going to have the time of your life. You get to be silly with a bunch of people who allow themselves to be silly. Add a bit of structure to that silliness, and at least one person observing the silliness and you get a performance.

Sometimes there is more than one person. Sometimes there’s 200. And you get to do that over and over again with people you enjoy being silly with. Faust is a home for your imagination. And, like any home, you can let it run free there.