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“The Good Woman of Setzuan” Presented Nov. 16-20

BOONE – The Department of Theatre and Dance at Appalachian State University will present the Bertolt Brecht epic “The Good Woman of Setzuan” Nov. 16-20 in Valborg Theatre. Curtain is at 8 p.m. each night, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Nov. 20. Tickets are $10 and $6 and can be purchased at the Valborg Theatre Box Office. For more information, call 262-3063.

Brecht is known for his use of poetry and grand scale in his plays. His works often contain passages aimed at distancing the audience in order to create an intellectual rather than emotional response.

“The Good Woman of Setzuan,” written in Scandinavia during Brecht’s exile in the late 1930s, chronicles the life of Shen Te, who in spite of her questionable occupation is deemed a “good person” by three gods. The gods reward her and she becomes a tobacco shop owner. Her kindness to people freeloading in her shop gains renown and Shen Te becomes known as “an angel.” Soon she must choose between allowing her kindness to deplete her shop’s resources or throwing people out. A mysterious cousin, Shui Ta, arrives to set Shen Te’s matters straight, as the “angel” mysteriously disappears for a short time. The plight of poverty is a major theme in the production. Shen Te is constantly challenged by the dilemma of helping those in need or helping those she loves.

Theatre faculty member Joel William directs “The Good Woman of Setzuan.” He is particularly interested in the impact of Brecht’s style. He said, “Most of our current dramatic entertainment, whether television, film or the theatre, tends to engage the emotions of the audience. Brecht wanted audiences to be more intellectually than emotionally engaged while watching his plays. We will attempt to challenge our audience to think about some very big and difficult questions.”

Erica Farmer, a senior theatre design and technology major, designed the production’s set. She said that it has been challenging to design a set that allows for so many rapid location changes, but added, “It’s been a lot of fun, as well.” Farmer is joined by fellow theatre design and technology major Hugh Thompson, who designed sound.

Theatre faculty member Jeromy Hopgood designed lights, and theatre faculty Sue Williams designed costumes.