A Good Woman of Setzuan combines gorgeous Chinese setting with live theatre experience

Tallulah Winkelman and Alex McMorran in a reimagining of a Bertolt Brecht classic at the Dr. Sun Yet Sen Garden. Photo by Ray Shum. 

Performing a re-imagined version of Bertolt Brecht’s "The Good Person ofSzechwan", entitled "A Good Woman of Setzuan" and placing it at the Dr. Sun Yet Sen Garden, running from June 29 to July 24, is a stroke of genius by Seven Tyrants Theatre. Daniel Deorkson, the company's artistic producer and the show's musical director, enthused about the show's lush setting. “The garden is a wonderful place to revisit this classic work remaining considerate to the Chinese nature of the garden.”

The play tells the tale of the young prostitute Shen Te, who tries to be ‘good’ according to the morality that the gods dictate and that her fellow citizens of Sichuan pay lip service to. In order to cope, ShenTe creates an alter ego to protect herself: a male cousin named Shui Ta.

The story is relevant to Vancouver today considering its recent past: rioters destroying the downtown core after the city, the CBC and various businesses provided the hoi polloi with a great opportunity to celebrate and then they  shamefully destroyed that goodwill .

“The message in the play is: are we able to maintain the moral high road in this dog eat dog world?” said Deorksen.Director  David Newham, who is also co-artistic producer of Seven Tyrants, a theatre company created by mostly 2006 UBC Theatre and Film graduates, has found a talented cast whose musical talent was key.

“We were so lucky to find people that bring musical expertise, as the score requires the actors to play instruments almost like a totem of their character.”

This is not the first time that Seven Tyrants has used this garden -- they collectively created an outdoor-roving fairy tale called "The China Tea Deal" with three sequels starting in 2008. For "A Good Woman of Setzuan", however, the garden is an especially well-suited backdrop for the story.

Placing the play in the gorgeous garden setting with actors playing to the seated audience at a three or four foot distance heightens the intimacy and immediacy of live performance. “The gardens offer us a large upstage playing are", Deorken explained. “ (On a conventional stage) there might be a painting of the town as a set. In the garden, there is a real upstage withreal buildings creating interesting staging possibilities.”

Tallulah Winkelman and Alex McMorran star in the production with Deorksen, Joy Castro, Mishelle Cuttler, Phyllis Ho, Chris Lam, Emily Lee, Brian KnoxMcGugan, Marie Montemayor, Byron Noble and Varya Rubin playing an array of instruments. The score, created by Deorksen, is described as “eclectic -- like industrial Tom Waits meets a Chinese Folk tune.” 

Choreography by Jenny Duffy further creates a post apocalyptic feel that serves the play beautifully.

The garden, featured on a Martha Stewart Show in 2008, where it was celebrated as an exceptional place of architecture and gardens, normally costs $14 for adults to enter. If experiencing this theatrical event isn’tenough, during the run of the show, the gardens will be open at 7:20 for you to meander the paths and enjoy the beauty and serenity with the price of your ticket.

Call  604-662-3207 for tickets.Book your tickets before June 29th and receive $5 off!

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden,

578 Carrall Street, in the heart of Vancouverʼs Chinatown.



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