Theater Department presents ‘The Good Woman of Setzuan’

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November 7, 2013

Is it possible to be good and stay good?

A diverse cast of 15 College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University students take center stage for two November weekends at the Gorecki Theater, Benedicta Arts Center of the College of Saint Benedict.

"The Good Woman of Setzuan" will be presented for seven performances by the CSB and SJU Theater Department. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14-16 and Nov. 22-23, and 2 p.m. Nov. 17 and Nov. 24.

The play was written by German playwright Bertolt Brecht. Brecht was a German director who influenced the theater of 20th century contemporary writers. He also wrote "Mother Courage and Her Children" and "The Threepenny Opera."

"The Good Woman of Setzuan" was first performed in Zurich in 1943. This play is what Brecht imagined life in China to be during the first half of the twentieth century. Throughout the plot, Brecht uses alienation effects to remind the audience that they are watching a fictional story in the form of theater.

This production features a parable of a young woman torn between morality and human society, between love and realism and between her own desires and those of her friends and neighbors.

In "The Good Woman of Setzuan," three ancient Chinese gods arrive in search of honesty and goodness, but find only evil, dishonesty and greed. The one exception is Cin Te, a young prostitute who gives up a night's wages in order to let her family rest at her house. As a reward, the three gods give her a large sum of money. But, in the society of Setzuan, Cin Te's good fortune only makes her a target for the greed and selfishness of others. Her solution is to reinvent herself as a powerful male cousin named Shui Ta. However, Cin Te's problems are compounded when she falls in love with an unemployed pilot named Yangsun, who exploits her for his selfish needs.

"The Good Woman of Setzuan" features a diverse group of students representing a wide variety of majors including peace studies, English, communication, psychology, political science, chemistry, theology, Asian studies and theater. Many members of the cast are playing more than one character.

"It has wonderful roles for men and women and people of all backgrounds and experiences," said Kaarin Johnston, professor of theater at CSB and SJU and the play's director. "We thought it would be thought-provoking as well as entertaining and provide fun opportunities for students to act."

The students involved in the play are CSB seniors Marcelline Gangl, Rose Gangl, Cindy Gonzalez and Sue Yang, SJU seniors Gabriel Oldrych Drouet, Tom Schultz and Alex Yanik, SJU junior Robb Goetzke, CSB sophomores Abby Baggenstoss, Heidi Hurrle, Julia Odima and Emily Schoenbeck and SJU sophomores Kurt Baldwin, Elliot Drolet and Cristian Zamora.

On Friday, Nov. 15, there will be free admission for all attendees.

Tickets for the show are available at the BAC Box Office, by calling 320-363-5777 or online. Cost is $10 for adults and $7 for students, faculty, staff and seniors.