Poppy Miller plays Shen Te in the Library Theatre’s production of The Good Soul of Szechuan by Bertolt Brecht. Directed by Chris Honer, the Library Theatre’s Artistic Director, the production opens this week. Here, Poppy gives us her five reasons to go along and see the production.
1. The Play:
The play asks a cacophony of questions: How are we to be good in a place ruled by greed and competition?; What power do the poor have?; How can we look after ourselves and others at the same time?; Does kindness make us weak?; Does pure kindness even exist?; Are things worse right now than ever before? Despite the relish with which all the characters are drawn, no one is ever quite as they seem and no one is completely good or bad…
2. The Author:
Despite an actor’s initial fears about Brechtian technique and getting it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, Brecht’s writing invites you only to enjoy the playing of it. You can let go of some of your usual anxieties about consistent, throbbing inner truth. The story is all. The audience is always with us; we talk to them. Brecht’s is not a theatre about dreaming or magic, but about doing and seeing. He also has a great sense of humour. The play is funny. I’d have to couple admiration for the man himself with homage to David Harrower, whose translation is witty, poetic and unpretentious.
3. The Songs:
There are lots of feisty, quirky songs, sometimes when you least expect them.
4. The Heroine/Hero:
The double-faced main character, Shen Te, and her invented male cousin Shui Ta, offers a sample answer to one of my perennial questions: who would the female Hamlet or Dr Faustus be? And what questions would such a character ask? Here she grapples with how to be good, how to be a good lover, and how to be a good mother all at once. She also asks the wider question: does such a thing as society really exist? She thinks it does and should, while her ruthless cousin would have no qualms about saying it doesn’t. So in a way, she gets to believe two opposing things at once. What a great character to play!
5. The Venue:
The chance to see a great 20th century play at the wonderful intimacy of the Library Theatre, delivered by a cast of 14.
The Good Soul Of Szechuan runs from Friday 30 October - Saturday 28 November. For more information call the theatre on 0161 236 7110 or visit www.librarytheatre.com
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