A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

drama
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE GOOD PERSON OF SETZUAN (article first published : 2004-09-11)

The latest production from the Drama and Performance Studies Department of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban is The Good Person of Setzuan, Bertolt Brecht’s play translated by Eric Bentley, which opened last night at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

Brecht wrote The Good Person of Setzuan between 1938 and 1941 while he was living in exile after having fled Nazi Germany. It goes beyond a dramatic narrative to include social issues which are just as relevant today as they were in the late 30’s. He teaches that if we are to make our universe a just and civilised environment we must confront our problems and do something about them. It’s not an easy task, though – as a line from the play states: “No one can be good for long if goodness is not in demand.”

The story deals with The Gods who have a task to do. They must find someone good on whom to focus their attentions. Their choice is “The Angel of the Slums” - the prostitute Shen Te, who mends her ways when she is given the wherewithal to buy a tobacco shop. Suddenly distant relatives descend in their hordes like parasites to feed off her generosity. She falls in love with an arrogant, self-centred airman but her outgoing nature and positive beliefs become eroded with the demands made upon her by those around her. She invents a hard-nosed businesslike cousin to protect herself, donning male clothing to assume the character. In the process, she finds out some cruel truths about her lover and complications set in when she and said cousin are not able to be in the same place at the same time!

Giving the consistently strong performance we have come to expect from her, Janna Ramos-Violante plays Shen Te with Gareth Pretorius matching her as The Airman. Libby Allen was a spunky and forthright Waterseller and Josette Eales was suitably refined as the landlady who has eyes on The Airman!

Bizarrely dressed but providing much humour were The Gods: Lenin Shabalala, Ayanda Mpana and Nqobile Khoza, led by the highly articulate and amusing Lloyd O’Connor. Other notable performances came from Adam Doré as the policeman, Shika Budhoo as Mrs Shin, Rowin Munsamy as the Barber, Emmylou Wewege as the Carpetdealer’s Wife and Nonhlanhla Dlamini as The Airman’s mother.

Director Tamar Meskin has created a fast-moving and entertaining production which has added interest from a series of projected images by Miranda Young-Jahangeer and Doung Jahangeer. She extracted much humour from the use of the ever-present Singers and their MC (nicely underplayed by highly-watchable Iain Robinson) who provided upbeat comment in song.

Mervyn McMurtry’s stark but effective set hosted a cast of over 30 students who generally acquitted themselves well and I was happy to hear a great improvement in articulation and diction from this department. Things slide a bit when actors have to call on stronger vocal power in anguish or anger and voices strain to damaging point.

Performances from September 7 to 11 are at 19h00. Tickets R25 (R15 students, pensioners and scholars, R10 for block bookings of more than 10). Bookings or further information from Claudette Wagner (weekdays 08h30 to 13h00) on 031 260 3134, fax 031 260 1410 or email wagnerc1@ukzn.ac.za – Caroline Smart




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart