‘The Good Person of Szechwan:’ A Theatrical Breakthrough

Ike Webster, Annastasia Watkins, Qualil Ismail, and Christine Jamling may not work in the construction industry, but they are still breaking down walls. The “fourth wall,” that is. Director Ike Webster and his group of college actors are preparing to perform the play “The Good Person of Szechwan,” starting on October 10 at UH Manoa, which they hope will break down the wall separating the audience from the actors.

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. Afterward, the gods compensate her for her kindness, thinking they have found their one good person. But to survive in a harsh world, Shen Te must change her personality. “The Good Person Of Szechwan” addresses the question of whether you can be a good person in a capitalist world.

“This is not a show about normalization. I want the audience to leave with questions about themselves,” said Director Ike Webster. Webster hopes to employ the alienation, or v effect in his re-enactment of Brecht’s play by having the characters directly address the audience, allowing them to remain critical observers.

The actors also said they feel this play can reach the audience.

“The issues are still so relevant today,” said Watkins.

Issues such as political identity, living in a capitalist world, and gender equality are all very important underlying themes that are featured in the play. These issues are easily relatable to people because they are still very real, despite the play’s creation date of over seventy years ago.

Be prepared to ponder ideas such as “morality is subjective” and “being human is very gray” while watching Bertolucci Brecht’s “The Good Person of Szechwan.” Tickets are on sale for $8 to $18, and the performance times are October 10, 12, and 13 at 7:30 pm, and October 14 at 2:00 pm at the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre.