How many faces must we wear? Melodie Ngo as The Good Woman of Setzuan.

If a good woman is hard to find then don't miss this one! Theatre at TWU presents The Good Woman of Setzuan, by Bertolt Brecht, running March 25-April 4. This enchanting parable by one of the giants of modern theatre uses music, masks and mayhem to follow the adventures of a questionable woman, using questionable means, to defend her un-questionable virtue.

Using a Chinese fable and the fictitious setting of the village of Setzuan, German playwright Bertolt Brecht questions who's good and who's evil in a capitalist society. In Setzuan, only the conniving survive. Shen Te is a prostitute down on her luck, but still the only townsperson willing to extend hospitality to three strangers, (who just happen to be gods). Rewarding her kindness, the gods give her a GoodLadySetzuan-03-4x6leg up in the world, supporting her financially, and allowing her the freedom to change her life. When the money rolls in, so do greedy family and friends, and Shen Te is forced to create a cruel alter-ego, businessman named Shui Ta, to defend herself against the masses.

"Brecht never wanted people to get lost in the story," says director Aaron Caleb, who audiences may remember from smash hits like The Taming of the Shrew and Pride and Prejudice. "It's theatre, and we never want you to forget that for a moment. The point of all the masks, songs, puppets, and larger than life characters is to give distance so you can think about the issues: Why do we do good? Do we really reap what we sow? Should we give till it hurts?"

Brecht wanted to identify social problems and challenge people to go forth from the theatre and effect change. His staging techniques continually remind the audience that the play is a representation of reality and not reality itself.GoodLadySetzuan-04-4x6

"The play explores big ideas and big themes," says Caleb. "You can go crazy, push the boundaries - you're still wondering what's going to happen next. It takes everything you've got. And the students are physically exhausted," he says with a smile. "Mask work is tough - you can't let the character drop for a moment. You have to support the mask with full body activity: without it, the mask dies. It's a lot of work."

The production features Melodie Ngo in the title role, supported by 18 additional TWU theatre students. Adding to the experience are the intricate set and evocative lighting design by Lauchlin Johnston, costume design by Krista Sung, musical direction by Joshua McFaul, and stage management by Kyla Ferrier.

GoodLadySetzuan-05-4x6A classic tale of unmatched entertainment, The Good Woman of Setzuan plays at Trinity Western University from March 25 - April 4. Don't miss this opportunity to travel without a passport to an exotic land that's not so far from home.
For tickets or more information visit

Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C., is an independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers 41undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 17 graduate degree programs include counseling psychology, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Dead Sea Scroll Studies, Developmental Genetics and Disease, and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.


Last Updated: 2009-03-23
Author: Kris Knutsen