Studio 7 to unveil ‘The Good Person of Szechwan’

Rajan Pokhrel


Dozen of characters are enacting their roles. Musicians are playing the instruments. The stage is being decorated. There is a search of a good person. Nobody knows what will happen even though everybody is aware of the proceedings. It is a rehearsal of “The Good Person of Szechwan”, a famous drama written by Bertolt Brecht, well-known German playwright, and directed by Sabine Lehmann.

The play begins with an intense scene: the diverse characters strut onto stage and strike poses, accompanied by hoarse music that symbolises the times these people live in. Then, suddenly, a coin is dropped and the group of nearly 30 people race to the centre of the stage to get their hands under it. This dramatic scene sets the show off on a good start and there are many other creative and powerful ones like it but “The Good Person of Szechwan” drags on for another three hours, losing some of its intensifying emotion.

This epic play by Brecht tells the evolving stories of Wang, a waterseller, and Shen Teh, a prostitute-turned shopkeeper. Brecht assembles quite an ensemble of characters that includes three gods who build a unique relationship with Wang. The people of the city of Szechwan round out the cast. What these people don’t realise is that one of their own, Shui Ta, is actually Shen in disguise. In Shui, Shen can be almost the opposite of who she really is — a good person. However, by the show’s end she comes to the sombre realisation through her lies that she is not a good person, despite what the gods think.

Brecht’s famous parable, written in exile in 1939-41, shows that in an unjust society good can only survive by means of evil. In it, the gods come to earth in search of enough good people to justify their existence. They find Shen, a good-hearted but penniless prostitute, and make her a gift that enables her to set up her own business. But her goodness brings ruin and she must disguise herself as a man in order to muster sufficient ruthlessness to survive.

Within the script lie a number of songs. One of the most powerful scenes in the play is the performance of ‘Song of the Eighth Elephant.’ Anyone who loves theatre should take time to watch the production of Studio 7 “The Good Person of Szechwan” that will be staged from April 22 at the Naga Theatre of Hotel Vajra.

According to Shambhu Lama, the organiser of the event, Studio 7, a troupe composed mostly of Nepali dancers and actors under the direction of Sabine Lehmann and Ludmilla Hungerhuber, has been performing one play in April each year — either selected from existing great dramas or written by the ensemble — striving always to capture moments of truth, beauty and joy since 1981.