Curtain rises on Claremont secondary production

The Good Person of Szechwan opens Wednesday at Claremont school theatre

Grade 11 student Jessica Corbin

Grade 11 student Jessica Corbin

What does it mean to be a good person? That’s what drama students at Claremont secondary hope to find out with their latest production opening tonight (Wednesday) at the school’s theatre.

The Good Person of Szechwan is the story of Shen Te, an ex-hooker with a heart of gold who receives a large sum of money from the gods, but gets taken advantage of financially by her peers. To prevent others from exploiting her generosity, she makes up another identity, portraying Shui Ta, her harsh male cousin who isn’t afraid to put his foot down.

While it sounds like Pretty Woman crossed with Mrs. Doubtfire, the gender-bending play is not a light-hearted ’90s comedy, but rather a dramatic production written by German theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht in the 1940s.

“The idea of the duality of a man playing a woman or vice versa is not new,” said drama teacher Colin Plant. “The audience is in on it from the beginning because they know that this young woman is doing this as a man. It’s the fact that nobody in the play does know, and there’s the unintended consequence when someone’s talking to the character as a man about the girl.”

The production stars Grade 11 student Jessica Corbin as the play’s protagonist and her fictional cousin, a challenging task for most seasoned actors.

Perhaps most difficult, she said, is maintaining the subtle nuances of Shen Te while portraying Shui Ta without overdoing it.

“I have to be tough Shui Ta but I also have to be vulnerable Shen Te, so it’s hard to place those without overlapping too much,” she said.

Claremont senior Trevor Hamer stars alongside Corbin as Yang Sun, Shen Te’s love interest who manipulates her to part with her money. Despite that, Shen Te falls madly in love with Yang Sun, adding to the drama of the production.

“If you look in the dialogue, Yang Sun’s lines are just so harshly said, you can tell he’s in it for the money,” said Hamer. “He doesn’t love her at all.”

“When I’m interacting with Yang Sun as Shui Ta, there’s some vulnerability,” added Corbin, “because Shen Te is in love with him and she’s hearing all these rotten things that he’s saying about her and the true feelings of Yang.”

The inadvertently direct criticisms make for a gripping climax at Shen Te and Yang Sun’s wedding, and The Good Person of Szechwan ultimately forces the audience to question what makes a person good.

“This play has you thinking about your financial place in the world,” said Plant. “Yes, we all want more money to have more nice things in our life, but how much is enough and isn’t it considered desirable to be charitable?

“Being charitable and being capitalistic in your approach to money is at odds with each other, and that’s what Brecht is really saying in the play: It’s easy to be cruel and keep your money, but it’s hard to be charitable and kind.”

The Claremont drama students are performing the play at 7:30 p.m. nightly from Feb. 17 to 20 and 23 to 26, with tickets at the door priced at $10.

 

For more information, email Plant at cplant@sd63.bc.ca.

 

Just Posted

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

Kidspace, which took over the YMCA-YWCA childcare centre at Eagle Creek Village, plans to reopen the Y’s fitness centre as the Eagle Creek Athletic Club in September. (Photo courtesy of Kidpsace)
Former Y fitness centre in View Royal aims to reopen in September

Kidspace taking over both the gym and the childcare facility at Eagle Creek Village

Cheyenne, six, Savannah, three, and Jeremiah Sinclair, 8, were out on walk with their mother on June 4 when they discovered the first of several hundred fish that died after bleach leaked into Reay Creek. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Spill in Sidney’s Reay Creek turns into ecological lesson for local children

Federal-provincial investigation ongoing into what appears to be a bleach spill

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read