First performed in 1993 on Eastern’s stage, The Good Person of Szechwan is back! Directed by Michael Brix (‘98), Bertolt Brecht’s comedy will play from Wednesday, November 13 through Saturday, November 16 at 8 PM, and Sunday, November 17 at 3 PM. Good Person will bring audiences into a newly realized version of Brecht’s Chinese parable about morality and the flexibility of the definition of goodness.
In the play, three gods descend upon the little town of Szechwan, seeking out a citizen who is good of heart. The gods are shown kindness by Shen Te, an impoverished prostitute, and they reward Shen Te with immense wealth – hoping that goodness will win out over human nature. This 2013 production will be updated to the present day, in which bohemian performers will bring the story of Shen Te to the audience, through music and comedy.
Brix discussed the significance of this performance for Eastern University, in the aftermath of the passing of Mark Hallen, Eastern’s Director of Theatre, this past summer. Brix states, “In the 12th grade…I was invited to a dress rehearsal of the fall production and to meet the Director of Theatre, a man named Mark Hallen. I remember the production to be unlike anything that I had ever seen before; there was dancing, and rock and roll, and characters who were gods (and women!) and it was mesmerizing…To say that this man had a profound impact on my life would be understating it. As Mark’s health was declining this summer, it was a joy to sit and talk with him about our re-mount of Good Person.” This performance of Good Person is dedicated to Mr. Hallen.
A couple of Eastern’s key players shared their experiences. When asked to sum up the show in one word, Daniel Edgar, a sophomore at Eastern, offered the word “struggle.” Senior Andrew Whitehead summed up the play as “deep.” “There aren’t really any surprises,” Whitehead states, “Easternites should simply come ready to have their viewpoints challenged and their worlds opened.” Whitehead plays Yang Sun, who he described as “an out-of-work pilot,” the main love interest of Shen Te, played by Senior Kim Alloway, who “further complicates Shen Te’s struggle to do good in a bad world.” The complications grow stronger as Shen Te must also contend with Shu Fu. Edgar states, “I play Shu Fu the barber. He is known as a business leader and one of the few powerful men of Szechwan. He uses his money and influence to try to get the things that he wants, and in this case, that would be Shen Te.”
What should Eastern’s audience expect from the production? No plot twists will be leaked, but Eastern should expect “laughs, music, and hopefully leaving the theater having seen and learned the struggles of being good,” according to Edgar. Maybe one secret will be shared: expect a “large amount of breaking the fourth wall,” Whitehead states.
For more information about Eastern’s production of The Good Person of Szechwan, which opens Wednesday night on November 13, visit the news and events section of eastern.edu