A Good Woman of Setzuan

Add a Comment by Michelle Kim

While most Vancouverites know Bard on the Beach, and how their plays are set up against a backdrop of sea, sky and mountains, not many may be aware of Seven Tyrants Theatre and how their performances are also set up against a natural landscape—only it’s the lush gardens of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Alex McMorran (Wong) and Tallulah Winkelman (Shen Te) in A Good Woman of Setzuan. Photo by Ray Shum.

For the next few weeks in the evenings, the garden will serve as a three-dimensional background and stage to the company’s production of the theatre classic, A Good Woman of Setzuan.

Written in 1943 by German playwright and director Bertolt Brecht, A Good Woman of Setzuan is about how three gods visit the mythical city of Setzuan in search of a “good” person, only to find one in a humble prostitute named Shen Te. But after a gift from the gods forces Shen Te to invent an alter ego in order to protect herself and her new-found wealth, conflict follows.

What makes this performance of A Good Woman of Setzuan different that any other that has been staged is because only has the company drawn from several translations to write a more streamlined version of the parable, but they have also written their own music to go with the play.

“There is a rock opera aspect to it,” says Musical Director Daniel Deorksen, who also composed its original score. “It’s like Frank Zappa meets Tom Waits with a Chinese classical aspect to it.”

The actors, who are also musicians, perform all of the music live. Walking around the garden, they incorporate the instruments into the story (as weapons, etc).

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden“There is amazing array of musical instruments involved including the ukulele, sax, violin, trumpet, acoustic and bass guitars, the Chinese erhu, percussions, accordion, and didgeridoo.”

Seven Tryrants Theatre was started by Daniel Deorksen, David Newham, and five other classmates when they graduated from the UBC Theatre Department in 2007. Their mandate is to produce original theatre that is socially and economically relevant to a global audience. This is their fourth season working in partnership with The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and performing in the garden.

A Good Woman of Setzuan runs until July 24, 2011. Performances are Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday at 8:00pm. Tickets are $32 for adults, $29 for students, and can be purchased by calling 604-662-3207. Visit the Seven Tyrants Theatre website for more information.

Please note that although the audience will be sitting a covered pavilion (so it’s fine to attend when it rains) it is advised to bring a sweater to the performance because it can still get a little chilly on these Vancouver nights.

This feature was written exclusively for Miss604 by actor, writer, and producer, Michelle Kim. Read all posts contributed by Michelle for Miss604.com and follow her on Twitter @miju.

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