dossier: Rob Faust for FALLEN APPLES

I heard of Rob Faust and Faustwork while I was still in university. I’d always been interested in mask work (it being one of the forms I had always been wanting to experiment with but never had the opportunity), but, sadly and probably due to the sheer vastness of acclimatizing to the independent theatre world in Canada after graduation, I never really knew where to find him. It wasn’t until last year, after being successfully and passionately introduced to the world of clown and all its associates, did I see Rob perform a few of his best pieces at Helen Donnelly’s Foolish Cabaret. The audience was in stitches. The full house was on the edge of their seats as he performed his backwards ballerina and introduced us to The Creep.

Rob has that effect on people.

A couple months later, the night of the Great Deluge of Toronto, did we actually meet, in a leaking garage opening onto a flooded stage and an audience that was smaller than the number of performers crammed in the back. After a soggy performance, we all headed to Squirly’s for a much needed pint. 

And the rest, to use a tired cliche, is history.

I couldn’t be happier to be working alongside Rob and this talented bunch as we animate 30-some-odd-years of his masks for an all-new fully-mask cabaret: FALLEN APPLES, happening on March 10th @ Unit 102.

dossier #28:

Rob Faust

Who are we talking to?

You’re talking to born and bred New Orleanian who grew up in a carnival culture that identified with fun, masks, and ritual, but it was after moving away from Mardi Gras that I encountered masks-for-theatre in physical theatre classes.

What gets you going in the morning?

Besides the obvious answer of rich strong coffee and hot milk–the way people in New Orleans have always liked it—what gets me going these days is the work of making masks, coordinating and promoting the biz of Faustwork Mask Theatre, performing, and these days looking forward to the serious fun of pulling together the first (perhaps of many) Mask Cabarets.

What is your earliest memory of realizing, yep, I need, or want, to do this with my life?

When I was 9, Grandma gave me and my sister and cousins a silver dollar each for doing a nativity scene at her big family Christmas party. It wasn’t REALLY the money as much as it was having all the adults paying close attention to what we were doing and smiling and laughing. I played Joseph and asked the innkeeper for connecting rooms with an adjoining bath.

Have there been times you seriously question why you pursue this lifestyle/art form? If so, what was it that kept you in it, or brought you back?

Pure and simple: it’s fun. That’s what keeps me coming back. I’m fortunate to earn a living at it and the business owns me. There are of course many days it’s difficult and I want nothing to do with it, but I can’t figure out what else I could do to pay the rent as effectively.

White Head for CK copy


I love the point of view twist on “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” This Mask Cabaret is all about family and all the positive and negative that that implies. We 12 co-creators all told family stories to each other and then deconstructed them and turned them into comic and poignant vignettes. Much of the material is cartoony in the best sense of that word… aka, clownish.

Why mask theatre?

I was blown away by their power in a physical theatre class. During those workshop days a fellow student taught me how to make masks and it turned out that i was good at both the performing and the making.

You’ve compiled quite a cast of artists for “FALLEN APPLES”. Can you let us know the roster, or some of the roster?

The cast is amazing!! We are in alphabetical order: Andrew Gaboury, Allan Turner, Christel Bartelse, Dana Fradkin, Eric Double, Helen Donnelly, Neil Muscott, Nicole Arends, Nicole Ratjen, Oliver Georgiou, and Rob Faust.

What’s a favourite memory, or story, from performing in mask in the past?

I performed a beautiful duo mask/dance piece nearly naked with a beast mask on top of my head.”Burden of Paradise”… think elemental dance/theatre version of “Beauty of the Beast”. Critics and audiences loved it, found it very sensual, almost erotic. My partner was friends with Carly Simon and her friends and we performed on a sweeping lawn under a willow tree for 160 swells at a benefit to help elect Mario Cuomo governor of New York. We blew minds! There were many people there who would never have bought tickets to see such a thing as us. We had celebrities–including Mario Cuomo and Charles Grodin (a fav of mine) in our faces gushing afterwards. The topper was that my father-in-law overheard Ethel Kennedy say to one of her grandchildren seated next to her, “Sheer depravity!!” Quite an endorsement if you ask me.

Describe “FALLEN APPLES” in three adjectives, a phrase, or with sound.


Do you have anything you’d like to share with us?

FB page: Faustwork Mask Theatre


YouTube clips: Faustwork Mask Theatre

Rob talking about his process and some of his favourite masks:

snippets of some of the first pieces I ever saw Rob perform:

and a fun bilingual interview:

Faustwork Mask Theatre presents “FALLEN APPLES”

Rob Faust directs a series of comic, poignant, and bizarre vignettes based on the dark and the light side of family dynamics. The show was created collaboratively by Rob and the following cast.

Allan Turner, Andrew Gaboury, Christel Bartelse, Dana Fradkin, Eric Double, Helen Donnelly, Neil Muscott, Nicole Arends, Nicole Ratjen, Oliver Georgiou, Rob Faust.

Tickets: $20, CASH ONLY


VENUE: Unit 102, 376 DUFFERIN STREET just south of Queen

Arizona High School students masked

dossier: Yury Ruzhyev for VIVA CABARET

Yury and I met this summer while attending Volcano Theatre’s Conservatory. It was a crazy, lovely, relaxing and frustrating time that I am so thankful for. It really was this perfect little escape within the city this summer. I just got off three back-to-back shows and it was so refreshing just to go into a studio and be able to play (even if all of the offered training didn’t necessarily agree with me) without any expectations. 

It was in this atmosphere that Yury and I met. There’s something so valuable about devoting all of your time and energy to study. It allows your mind freedom, lightness, and distances you enough to make connections with what you are learning to what your life has taught you up to that point. So of course, existing in this productive mental landscape, the people you meet become all that more interesting. Yury and I (and some other friends) bonded over diner food and beer between classes while dissecting exactly what it is about this live performance thing we like, we agree with, and what we disagree with. It is intellectual rigour at its best.

I’ve heard so much about this cabaret. Yury was quite exciting to watch in the studio. I can only imagine what it’s like to see him under the lights and in the costumes. 

So, without further ado, I present dossier #26:

yury half

Who are we talking to?

I am a circus monkey. An actor, clown, performer, dancer, director, producer… it’s a lot really, but I love doing it all. Going from one extreme to another, whether with jobs or roles or lovers. Its great to play a mafia tough killer guy or Puck from Mid Summer Night’s Dream during a day and then run to the show to be Liza and Tina for the night. Trained theatre actor, with MBA in marketing. I lived in Bulgaria, Russia, and New York and worked all kinds of jobs from a Go-go dancer and McDonalds team leader to an Executive Director of international travel company…

…oh, you mean? I am Yury Ruzhyev.

What gets you going in the morning?

The fact that I don’t need to do anything, or to be anything till 4 p.m. as I can’t function in the mornings well. On the other hand, a 5 a.m. wake up call and the whole day of filming in front of me will get me going like crazy… but it’s coffee really.

What is your earliest memory of realizing, yep, this is what I’m going to do with my life?

When a was a kid I often played theatre, had curtains up on ropes across the room, changing area, and tons of different changes of clothes, I would have to put on, perform something and run off to change into something new… Look at me now, my show is a lot about quick costume changes, and performing. Weird. I never liked to perform for anyone when I was a child, I was always by my own. But now I can’t live without the live audience. Filming pictures and tv shows excite me a lot, but still not as greatly as the live performance.

But I never wanted to be an actor. Freight train driver was my first and longest dream job as a kid. I still dream to get a train car, turn it in to a traveling home and go all around Canada.

What draws you to live performance? What is attractive about it to you?

The fright, the thrills, the moment of happening and other silly things like dressing room lights, stage wings, curtains. It’s the need to be loved right then and there and the risk that it might not happen.

Basically, I’m asking why you do what you do? Why not another art form?

There are other art forms? Theatre is my next favorite one (although, much of it is dated, dull, and boring, but I take it as a challenge), movies are fun especially if the direction and art is at place. But talking to people from stage is above all, for me, anyway.



The name you mean? Or the genre? The name is the third option and it’s been a road of suffering, for I am horrible with names (my theatre company is called Hooligan Productions, for example). It was Cabaret Show at first, then Yury’s Cabaret and after my trip to Las Vegas, where I got inspired and named it Viva Cabaret, like a tribute to the genre. As for the genre – it’s live theatre, performance, dance, and comedy show. I pay tribute to old time divas, their hits, their lives… and I think it’s important once in a while to get away from your computer or a phone and get into a bar, have a drink, watch a show – face the real life. As in that song (which inspired me a lot):

“What good is sitting alone in your room?

Come hear the music play.

Life is a Cabaret, old chum,

Come to the Cabaret.”

Aside from the 35 Divas you’ll be portraying onstage (!), I’ve heard you’ve got quite a following. Any leads as to who will be in the audience?

It’s amazing how these talented and well known people are so supportive of me. I am very honored and extremely happy they want to come to see me perform. But I don’t want to name anyone, as they are my audience and friends, and they are coming to have fun and be gay /as in happy/. Come to the show and find out.

Do you have a favorite memory from a past, or present, VIVA CABARET?

There are so many, I even wanted to have a show where I would talk about things that happened in the fun, the ugly and the magical. I’d say it’s the difficulties and the impossibles that makes this Cabaret journey unforgettable.

Describe VIVA CABARET in three adjectives, a phrase, or with sound.

It’s anything you want it to be for it’s Cabaret and everything is possible. The sound of mother’s steps coming home, the smell from your childhood that brings the warmth all over you… anything that makes you happy or silly. It’s the place and time when you can fall in love, get inspired, have fun, drink till you are on a pirate’s ship on a sailor’s arms who stole you and broke your heart… come to the Cabaret and live your dream.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share? Photos, videos, links, posters, stories, wishes?

It’s crazy how we can be so available and exposed and still be so incredibly closed and lonely. Here are the links:

my website:

my blog (lots of naked pics):

my twitter:

Video blog and show teaser:

Thought’s blog:

I wanted to mention that next year my theatre company Hooligan Productions presents KOMUNKA the play. 12 hours in a kitchen of a communal apartment in Moscow, during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, 2014 with four families, six tenants living in four rooms, and something in a box. Collective work based on the idea, characters, conflicts and dialogs outlines created by Yury Ruzhyev, directed by Sky Gilbert, devised and written together with actors.

The final version of the play will be produced during Summer, 2014 and workshop is scheduled for February 18-21, 2014 during and with live broadcast of Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

cab poster