The barbarity turns out to be not that the woman so masquerades, but that, when discovered, she is fired, even arrested, and her job given to “one whose legs chanced to have between them the organ recorded on his birth certificate.” The story treats gender as an artificial construction that serves male dominance, which Brecht seems to regard as an auxiliary to capitalism. The Good Woman of Setzuan Summary. First she tells the audience what happens, then she steps back into the action as it occurs. In scene four, Shen Teh enters their carpet shop, which is near her shop, to buy a pretty shawl. In other words, revealing the process by which she takes steps in Shui Ta’s manner and sings in his voice, the actor calls attention to the analogy between her activity and Shen Teh’s. But Brecht’s challenges to social arrangements come through epic process, not through traditional dramatic show-and-tell. Sun’s mother, Mrs. Yang, approaches her, because Sun needs 500 silver dollars to get a pilot’s job. It’s impossible to characterize all of these assessments with a few broad strokes, but it’s fair to say generally, I think, that the more Brecht has been scrutinized through these postmodern lenses, the more epic theater practice has gone out of focus. (That Shen Teh so abandons herself to lust contradicts several critics who complain that Brecht denies this female character her “desire.”). A review of The Good Person of Szechwan, in The Nation, January 5, 1957, p. 27. Beginning in the mid-1970s, there were numerous productions of The Good Person of Szechwan in the United States that were highly stylized (a trend that would continue into the 1990s). The Good Person of Szechwan is set in the capital city of the Szechwan province of China. SOURCES Désolé, un problème s'est produit lors de l'enregistrement de vos préférences en matière de cookies. Shen Teh for being too nice. In the following scene, on the way to her wedding, she herself notes that “The things [Yang Sun] said to Shui Ta had taught Shen Te nothing.” As if to prove the truth of these words, Shen Te tells the audience, “He loves me.” Upon arriving at the wedding, however, she discovers that Yang Sun will not allow the ceremony to be held until Shui Ta arrives—with the money that will allow him to work as a pilot. Along with the Method mania of the mainstream, these gurus could support a, “ALL THIS INVOKING, DISMISSING, EXTOLLING, AND REVILING HAS OFTEN MISSED THE DEEPEST FEMINIST IMPLICATIONS OF BRECHT’S EPIC THEATER. Diamond imagines a Brechtian-feminist practice that would build on epic acting, fashioning a performer who, “unlike her film counterpart, connotes not ’to be looked-at-ness’ [a quality of fetishized female presence elaborated by Laura Mulvey]... but rather ‘looking-at-being-looked-at-ness.’,” Brecht had a name for this: the gestus of showing, the performer acknowledging that she is being watched and enjoyed. He learns the truth about Yang Sun and ends up making Shen Teh accept it. These moments also underscore the themes of the play and give Brecht a forum to put forth his political, philosophical, and social ideas. Obviously, romantic partners who have sexual relationships are assumed to be in love. We must find her a husband!” Marriage has been called by some “legalized prostitution,” and that is clearly the view that Brecht presents here. Two get in a fight and break some of her shelving. When Shen Teh wants the 200 silver dollars back so she can repay the carpet dealer and his wife, Yang Sun will not (and as it turns out, cannot) do it. By means of the Verfremdungseffekt—the central mechanism of which is the Shui Ta disguise—Brecht lets us take a look at the conditions that give rise to this image of love and the commodified, irrational woman. Steve Winn of the San Francisco Chronicle believed the play remained relevant: “The Good Person of Szechwan feels a lot like life in the ‘90s.”. This dramatic motif, echoed by the theatrical process, is not just a game of self-referentiality. The Good Person of Szechwan The Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre By Bertolt Brecht Translated into Russian by Egor Peregudov Directed by Yury Butusov Barbican Theatre Julia Pascal . © 1996-2021,, Inc. ou ses filiales. Sun enters, commenting on how moody Shui Ta has been, tries to get Shui Ta to talk about business, but is put off. Il y a 0 commentaire et 0 évaluations venant de France, Livraison accélérée gratuite sur des millions d’articles, et bien plus. China had been at war with Japan since 1937, after Japan conquered Manchuria in 1932. Wang wants to do good, but is afraid of the gods. As soon as she does, many people take advantage of her kind nature. “Brecht Play Is Staged by Eric Bentley,” The New York Times, December 19, 1956, p. 41. John Fuegi, for example, is right that Shen Teh as a woman is “virtually a personification of feeling while Shui Ta as a man is made virtually a personification of reason or calculation.” But he’s right only up to a point because he doesn’t credit the play with pointing out and using that critical conclusion. Find tickets here , and remember to bring a pre-show picnic and arrive early to … Sun reveals that he cannot find a job, while Shen Teh reveals she has worked as a prostitute. He offers to marry her to save her business, though she ultimately declines. ." ), that we appreciate the comic device of reversal, that we grasp the central contradiction to be expanded upon in the play—that one can’t be good without having means, and acquiring means prevents one from being good. First he plans to talk only about ideas with her, then have her fall in love with him. Indeed, the more Brecht was reduced to being a bearer of Marxist messages, the more he could serve as avatar for the feminist theaters that mushroomed across America in the 1970s; the more incompletely or imprecisely Brecht was understood, the more easily he could be latched onto as an icon of radical theater practice. This play is amazing, particularly the epilogue which transparently calls out the play as an opportunity for the audience to consider what they would do to fix this broken world. On her part at least, this is the idealized roman tic love that society at least outwardly supports. The Lend-Lease Act of 1941 gave Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American President, the authority to give Britain, as well as China and the U.S.S.R., defense and information, at a cost to be determined later. What happens in their little imitation is complicated. Shen Teh wants to succeed at being a good person. The gods are not sympathetic, and wish her luck as they return to heaven. He attacks Wang with curling tongs, breaking his hand. It signals us: Don’t get so carried away by this bittersweet episode that you forget to employ your complex seeing; the double character once more forces an epic interruption, refocusing our attention. The only way to preserve her charitable ambitions and her family is to take on yet another identity. They give Shen Teh a thousand silver dollars so that she can continue to do good. But again, even at this curiously romantic moment, Brecht reminds us of the cousin not merely waiting in the wings, but lurking within the performer we hear speaking “in a deep voice.” What’s more, Shen Teh can mention getting rid of her zither as a humorous throw-away; to say that she will have nothing to do with a man requires heightened speech because, not only is her evident attraction for Yang Sun contradicting this pronouncement, but her impersonation of Shui Ta suggests that being rich necessitates having everything to do with a man, even if it’s one she embodies herself. During the interlude between scenes five and six, Shen Teh reveals that the carpet dealer needs the loaned money back. Many of them do not care that their demands are causing the business to fail; they are only concerned with their short-term gain. Vos articles vus récemment et vos recommandations en vedette. Everyone in attendance believes Shui Ta will get off because he is well-connected. He is much more hard-nosed about business and life. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and … This, no doubt, is the reason Brecht first appealed to feminist theater-makers in America, though many of his champions took inspiration from the spreading myth that Brecht was the great genius of agitprop. They tell her if she is good, all will turn out well. Thus, the transformation reflects the Marxist imperative so central to Brecht’s epic theater—that social being determines thought. First, Brecht increases the disdain with which we react to Yang Sun’s coarse treatment of Shen Teh, by reminding us of her romantic enthusiasm and showing how thoroughly love has swept her away. Over the next 13 years, Brecht published several short stories and poems, and successfully staged many of his own plays. This male alter ego is essentially the opposite of Shen Teh. Shui Ta turns the buildings Shu Fu donated into his tobacco factory. The gods decide to pay her for lodgings when they leave. Several things are accomplished by this self-conscious action. Braunagel, Don. We can’t follow suit by getting caught up in Shen Teh’s predicament; the Shui Ta disguise and the epic pointing to the familiar, socially bound nature of that predicament serve as a guardrail over the brink of sentimentality. The play, written by Bertolt Brecht in 1943, tells the story of Shen Te, a prostitute who, when visited by gods looking for one good person, offers them a place to stay. In addition, the ideas in The Good Person of Szechwan have been appreciated more and more over time. That’s a given; what matters is that we notice ourselves having them—and question why. But that’s not the case with epic acting, which demands that all aspects of character be shown “inquotations.” For, as Janelle Reinelt has argued, “The Alienation effect hollows out and denaturalizes behaviors which are actually socially constructed, enforced through power relations and the myopia which results from habitual positioning within them.” Applying this process specifically to gender, Elin Diamond points out, “by alienating (not simply rejecting) iconicity [the semiotic observation that the actor’s body resembles the character to which it refers], by foregrounding the expectation of resemblance, the ideology of gender is exposed and thrown back to the spectator.” As a result, “gender is exposed as a sexual costume, a sign of a role, not evidence of identity” and “the spectator is enabled to see a sign system as a sign system.” In sum, Diamond asserts, “Understanding gender as ideology—as a system of beliefs and behavior mapped across the bodies of females and males, which reinforces a social status quo—is to appreciate the continued timeliness of the Verfremdungseffekt.”. All this invoking, dismissing, extolling, and reviling has often missed the deepest feminist implications of Brecht’s epic theater. Shen Te is able to pay her rent as a prostitute and could survive economically as a rich man’s life, but her love for Yang Sun turns out to be a luxury she cannot afford. Critics of the 1975-76 productions of the play at La Mama in New York City debated old questions, such as how important The Good Person of Szechwan was in Brecht’s canon. At first he is brusque with her, even cruel, but as the two talk, he seems to become kinder, and Shen Te, for the first time, falls in love. (January 12, 2021). The song immediately follows a busy scene in which all the intertwining threads of the plot get tangled up: Shen Teh, newly in love with the pilot Yang Sun, praises the “glorious” morning, cheerfully dishes out rice to the freeloaders who exploit her generosity, and buys a shawl from an old couple with a longstanding marriage. “I’m leaving her behind,” he says. View 2 images. Shin is not fond of Shui Ta, and seems to like Shen Teh more after meeting him. Yang Sun is unmistakably an ambitious lout, not, as Gay Gibson Cima suggests, a sanctioned mouthpiece for conveying Brecht’s attitude toward women. Mrs. Yang tells the audience how Shui Ta saved her son by giving him a job and allowing him to thrive. In the Good Person of Szechwan there are six songs, all of which are placed at the end of a particularly important scenes or in an interlude. Retrouvez The Good Person of Szechwan et des millions de livres en stock sur What “The Song of Defenselessness” says parallels this stage action. Though there is little that is specifically Chinese about the play, Brecht set the pl… To ensure the success of her business and to secure some hope of being able to do good, Shen Teh invents a male persona, a cousin named Shui Ta. They decide to intervene. Yang Sun eventually goes to work for Shui Ta to pay back the 200 silver dollars he owes Shen Teh, and thrives under the ruthless businessman. Shui Ta later has them and their family arrested, and puts some of their family to work in her tobacco factory. He corrects situations that Shen Teh cannot. Each scene illustrates a sin that must be avoided if one is to make a buck—but each of these, of course, is really a virtue. A review of The Good Person of Szechwan, in The New Republic, March 13, 1976, p. 28. This act of goodness ends up hurting them deeply. This production, at New York City’s Phoenix Theatre, featured a controversial translation by Eric Bentley, who also directed the production. Today: Tobacco companies are sued for false advertising as it has been revealed in court that they have known for many years that cigarettes cause cancer. Shui Ta asks for the 200 silver dollars back, but Sun refuses. Shen Te responds by saying that she cannot pay Mrs. Mi Tzu’s price, but Yang Sun answers, “If she has me to stroke her knees she’ll come down.” Once again, Yang Sun shows his willingness to act as a prostitute. Shen Teh must do this in order, merely, to survive. Wang mentions that Shui Ta has been uncharitable, and the gods are not pleased with the cousin’s actions. “Your original order to be good, while yet surviving, split me like lightning into two people.”. Shen Teh promptly gives. desires marriage into flourishing tobacco shop?” Shen Te’s accepts the policeman’s “respectable” solution, but it is clear to the audience that she is once again selling herself in order to survive. up for Shui Ta in court. He began writing plays as early as 1918 (Baal) and joined communist organizations in 1919. The parable allowed him to unravel complicated things. Members of their extended family trickle in throughout the scene, taking advantage of Shen Teh’s goodness. Shui Ta is unlike Shen Teh, less compassionate and more ruthless or hard-nosed. Many of those who were left behind suffered. Wang is one of the characters who gets the police when Shen Teh is gone for a long time. 190-96. Because of this focus, the play does not seem to be intended to be a reflection of the actual social, cultural and political life in China at that time, although the play In the second half of the play, one reason Shen Teh feels she has to be Shui Ta is because of her troubled relationship with Yang Sun. Source: Alisa Solomon, “Materialist Girl: The Good Person of Szechwan and Making Gender Strange,” in Theater, 1994, Vol. In this famous parable, long known in this country under the potentially misleading title of The Good Woman of Sezuan, the gods come to earth in search of a thoroughly good person. Feminists, most of all, must not allow this to happen. . Epic theater’s basic effort to make the familiar strange, show the world as alterable, hold events at a temporal distance, and, as Brecht writes, reveal the human being as “the sum of all social circumstances” contains a profoundly feminist impulse (even if the social relations defined by gender were not the ones that particularly interested Brecht). Almost immediately, Yang Sun’s mother arrives and tells Shen Te that he needs five hundred silver dollars in order to bribe his way into a pilot’s job. Though most people in Western cultures would probably find fault with what is commonly called “marrying for money,” money plays at least a small part in many “romantic” decisions. Seeing her in the rosy splendor of the morning—when she’s flushed with love for Yang Sun—Shu Fu falls in love with her. By separating them from the body to which these characteristics are thought to be fused, the actor reveals how gender behavior is constituted. As she speaks, the whole story is acted out. Moreover, this careful, complicated scene offers important clues about epic acting, the relationship between gender and epic acting, and indeed about gender as epic acting. Scene eight has a number of monologues. His intention was not to provide a recipe for socialism, but to offer spectators the pleasurable experience of practicing and honing their critical attitude in the epic theater, so it could be applied more successfully in the world. And if so, what does that laugh show us? When Wang and a police officer enter the shop, Shui Ta denies that Shen Teh witnessed the crippling of Wang. This knee-jerk approach, laying a tendentious template over a work of art to see where it lines up, is particularly frustrating in the case of Brecht because it is so unnecessary. the loaned funds to Yang Sun so he can get his pilot’s job. It’s no doubt possible that such an exercise could be used to reinforce notions of naturalized gender behavior—one can imagine an actor drawing the conclusion that his female colleague observes masculinity better than he does because it is so completely alien to her. Indeed, if one considers Brecht’s attitude toward identification and heroes, it seems downright ludicrous to look to him, as Iris Smith does, for “desiring and desirable behaviors modeled on stage... so that the feminist spectator could find herself there and project herself into the future.”. It’s just come to me. Kerr, Walter. Brecht has been described as the great poet whose plays no longer work, the dramatic genius whose theatrical theory doesn’t fit, the artist whose politics hardly matter, the idealist who decayed into an opportunistic creep. Later, Mrs. Yang believes that Shui Ta saves her son when he hires Yang Sun to work in the factory. The elderly couple believe that Shen Teh will soon be out of business, but they continue to take advantage of her hospitality. He has a false bottom in his cup, meaning he cheats those to whom he sells his product. The merits of Shui Ta and Shen Teh are They want food, money, shelter, and constant service. Robert Hatch in The Nation was especially critical of the translation, and how it affected the play: “Eric Bentley translated the play with what sounds to my ear like a warm appreciation of its flavor, but he has displayed it in the theatre as though he were dressing a museum.” Hatch believed “The production commits the worse sin of the theatre—it is boring. When Shui Ta is arrested for the disappearance of Shen Teh and appears in court before the three gods, the gods do not see how their generosity in support of her good side have forced her to create this alternate identity just to survive. Mrs. Shin now knows that Shui Ta is Shen Teh. At the time of the first production in New York City, Brecht’s ideas about theater and the episodic structure of The Good Person of Szechwan were still considered unusual. Wang, an impoverished water seller, tries to find lodging for three prominent gods, who have come to Earth to find good people. There was much poverty and uncertainty as economic infrastructures were compromised. That, in a way, is what Shen Teh tries to do by taking on the guise of Shui Ta. By 1930 Brecht’s plays had become increasingly political, espousing his belief that communism would solve many of the world’s problems. Research Brecht’s idea of epic theater, perhaps through his book. The war in China created a desperate refugee situation in China, similar to that in Europe. The policeman continues, making the connection between marriage and prostitution even more explicit: “We need capital. Brecht was drawn to this device, no doubt, because it steadfastly requires complex seeing; the double character serves as a focal point for the heightened, self-conscious perception we must engage in the epic theater. They take advantage of Shen Teh’s generosity, though they also try to protect her. Trouver tous les livres, en savoir plus sur l'auteur. Many also agree that The Good Person of Szechwan is difficult for directors to interpret, often resulting in stylistically inconsistent productions. Secondly, Yang Sun has known from the beginning of his relationship with Shen Te that she has a shop. Ta will temper Shen Teh’s mercy, enabling her to live and do good. This is just what spectators of the lulling “Aristotelian” theater do, abandoning reason to the heedless, easily manipulated stirrings of the heart. At the most literal level, the singer presents a character in transition, changing her function from portraying Shen Teh to portraying Shui Ta. The character who suffers the most because of her goodness is Shen Teh, the title character and the only one with pure motivations. Throughout The Good Woman of Szechwan, Brecht emphasizes the impossibility of being good if one is to survive in a corrupt world and, in the final scene, this is what Shen Te tries to tell the gods, who turn a deaf ear. Shen Te’s first response is to say, “I’ll never agree to that,” but in a meeting with Mrs. Mi Tzu, Shen Te becomes her former lover’s pimp, effectively agreeing to sell Yang Sun in exchange for lower rent. When he believes Shui Ta has somehow hurt her, he gets the police to arrest him. But the idea first surfaces in his journals in the late 1920s, and he attends to it on and off for some 20 years, announcing the play’s completion in 1941. We always perceive Shui Ta as an impersonation performed by Shen Teh; simultaneously, we understand that Shen Teh is herself an impersonation created by the actor; therefore, she elicits no more unexamined empathy than does the less affecting Shui Ta, despite her more appealing nature. His one good deed leads to ever greater obligations. Yang Sun assumes a macho stance when Shui Ta says that Shen Teh will not go along with his decision: “You’re going to appeal to her reason? Mamet, who has won numerous prestig…, The Goophered Grapevine by Charles Waddell Chesnutt, 1899,, Compare and contrast Shen Teh with Anna Fierling, the title character of Brecht’s. Are you crazy?” Mrs. Shin here assumes that Shen Te is willing to sell herself again. The Carpet dealer and his wife run a shop near Shen Teh’s tobacco shop. America’s—and American feminists’—ability to skim Brecht for confirmation of the old platitudes and leave the rest for waste depends, in sum, on a fundamental failure to recognize the complex achievement of Brecht’s dramatic art. The elderly couple were Shen Teh’s first landlords when she moved to the city from the countryside. cast. Mrs. Yang is the mother of Yang Sun. He assumed (though hardly stressed) the emancipation of women as part of socialism; he paid little attention to the vibrant women’s movement of the Weimar period. debated by all whose lives have been touched by them. This principle, of course, is an underpinning of epic acting, which reverses the Stanislavskian process by which an actor builds action from character, proposing instead that the actor derive character from action—especially so that character can be shown to be a product of social forces. Goodness, however, is not the only casualty of the world’s imperfections. The Essential Brecht, Hennessey & Ingalls, 1972, p. 133. 25, no. Amadeus I sleep alone. Shui Ta is running the shop when Yang Sun shows up. The Good Person of Szechwan (German: Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, first translated less literally as The Good Woman of Szechwan) [1] is a play written by … These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Good Woman of Setzuan by Bertolt Brecht. and new scores were being written. marry money.” The policeman then writes an advertisement for Shen Te, further cementing the connection between marriage and business. Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. The sale makes Shin a pauper, and she demands rice and money from the prostitute. Yang Sun uses her feelings to better his own situation: he never really seems to love her, though he impregnates her. Pygmalion is a comedy about a phonetics expert who, as a kind of social experiment, attempts to make a lady out of a…, EDWARD ALBEE 1975 To that end, Shui Ta is arrested. “Theater Emory Pulls off Brecht with Bit of Verve,” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, March 20, 1992, p. D2. That same year Brecht wrote his last original play, The Days of the Commune, as he devoted all his time to running the theater and working as its stage manager. Mrs. Yang champions Shui Ta to the very end of the play. Shui Ta uses the buildings Shu Fu has given Shen Teh for the needy to start a tobacco factory/sweatshop. Brecht uses this opportunity to make the audience think rather than to just entertain them. Shen Teh is left to go on alone. “The Good Person Of Szechwan” … Shen Teh had spent the night with Sun and forgotten that she needs to pay the rent on her shop. As she takes on his appearance, she takes on his attitude. Des milliers de livres avec la livraison chez vous en 1 jour ou en magasin avec -5% de réduction . At the end of the play, Shen Teh is left to ponder whether being a successful business owner can succeed at being good as well. Un problème s'est produit lors du chargement de ce menu pour le moment. To insist that Shen Teh represents a misogynistic stereotype is also to overlook that the play is a parable. (Indeed, the recapitulation of Shui Ta’s action in the trial scene at the end of the play provides rationales for his cruel behavior that are difficult to refute.) Shen Teh declines to use it, but Shui Ta is not above taking advantage of the situation; he fills in an absurd amount, 10,000 silver dollars. One example is “The Song of the Smoke” sung by the elderly couple and their family, who force themselves upon Shen Teh in scene one. Both his upbringing and his experience in the military profoundly affected Brecht and his writing. Thus, the parable is distinguished from its theatrical cousins, allegory and symbolist drama, in which what is presented to the audience is meant to stand for something else (and which can easily slide into dreaded expressionism). Later, Shui Ta makes a deal with her to rent workshops and expand the tobacco factory. Shu Fu is by no means a nice person. Shen Teh immediately gives her the 200 silver dollars that the carpet dealer gave her, and pledges to get the rest. When creditors and beggars come into her shop, it is they who suggest making up a relative so that Shen Teh can put them off. His mask and costume, then, are her armor, his manner—the ruthlessness of an empire-builder—her weapon. Its function is not to reveal that Shui Ta is Shen Teh’s invention, but to show how that invention is assembled, how the contradiction described in the song—that goodness can come about only if militarily enforced—both demands and defeats the use of the disguise, how dramatic character (and, by extension, social character) is artificially manufactured, how our sympathies and antipathies can be evoked and manipulated. He turns Shen Teh’s charity into a business, a tobacco factory, and employs all those who Shen Teh helped for free before. Shu Fu, a wealthy barber, reinforces this notion that good deeds are … The Good Person of Szechwan - Free download as PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or view presentation slides online. In addition to Shen Teh, several minor characters struggle greatly after acts of kindness. For example, he employs the previously jobless relatives of the elderly couple, albeit in unfavorable working conditions. 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