Full Impact Theater brings Brecht’s entertaining and thought-provoking "The Good Person of Szechwan" to Rochester

Full Impact Theater invites you to experience German artist Bertolt Brecht’s engaging parable, “The Good Person of Szechwan,” under the creative vision of Full Impact Theater’s returning founder and director Dr. Lisa Hodge Kander. Its four live performances will have you both laughing and thinking at the intimate surroundings of the Ruth Cattell Auditorium in the OPC venue, 650 Letica Drive, located a stone’s throw from downtown Rochester’s Main Street. Opening night is Friday, May 17, at 7:00 p.m. Shows also run on Saturday, May 18, at both 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., concluding on Sunday, May 19, with a 2:00 p.m. matinee.

As a German native and an exile in Denmark pre-World War II, Brecht wrote his epic play in 1943. Being heavily influenced by the events in pre- and post-World War II Germany, Brecht drafted his most popular stage work, “The Good Person of Szechwan,” to pull the audience “out of a passive and unconscious state of mind and into a condition of heightened awareness that leads to an alternative way of thinking and acting in the world.” Though Brecht’s play challenges many of the important political and historical issues of the day with intelligence, Brecht does it in a pleasurable fashion—not hitting his audiences over the head with the hefty themes. He allows his audience to laugh and thoroughly enjoy themselves while asking them to think. The modern parable explores a basic human issue—how to be a good person in an imperfect, money-centered, class-divided world.

“The Good Person of Szechwan” opens with three gods descending to earth in search of a thoroughly good person. After an arduous quest, they encounter Shen Teh, a goodhearted but penniless prostitute, who offers them shelter. Rewarded by them with enough money to open a small tobacco shop, Shen Teh becomes so overwhelmed by neighbors and others demanding assistance, she invents a male alter ego, Shui Ta, to deal with the business of living in an evil world.

Retired from Full Impact Theater in summer 2011, but specifically returning to direct this play, the inimitable Dr. Lisa Hodge Kander comments: “Brecht’s story of Shen Teh, a good person in a hard world, has haunted me for years. It is both timeless and especially timely today. Many of us are struggling with financial realities in today’s tough economic times. How do we make being good and doing good a priority, when we are struggling to make a living or take care of our kids, our parents, or ourselves? Again, Full Impact Theater is taking on a play that raises questions that are unexpectedly deep for a teen troupe. This fits though—because teens are wrestling with the very questions this play faces. When youthful idealism clashes with harsh realities, it’s hard to know how to be ‘good’ in the real world.”

Local Rochester and Rochester Hills residents participating in this production are (from L to R): Lainie S., Peyton M., Nathalie M., Kayla D., Sophia V., and Holly I.

Local Rochester and Rochester Hills residents participating in this production are (from L to R): Lainie S., Peyton M., Nathalie M., Kayla D., Sophia V., and Holly I.

Full Impact Theater is definitely a cut above other teen drama troupes, mesmerizing audiences with classics- based entertainment—including its summertime Shakespeare-in-the-Park show. Fostering camaraderie and communication skills through intensive mentoring that emphasizes mutual respect, Full Impact Theater imparts professional standards associated with adult troupes to its teen thespians. In fact, its teens are not only involved in every facet of production, they”ve got a big say as active members of the board alongside adult members. Please note that Full Impact Theater is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which means your tax-deductible donations are most sincerely appreciated.

In the spirit of hospitality and goodwill, two universal themes explored in “The Good Person of Szechwan,” Full Impact Theater has generously agreed to donate its resources and talents in an extra performance for the interfaith The Promise of Hospitality Summit 2013 being held this year at Rochester’s Oakland University. Speakers and attendees of all faiths will converge May 3 and 4 at Oakland University, though Full Impact Theater’s one-presentation performance will be at Rochester’s First Congregational Church on May 4 at 7:00 p.m. For more information regarding this summit, please visit essentialcore.org/summit. Full Impact Theater has no affiliation with this organization or event, other than donating a performance.

Interested in buying your May 17, 18, or 19 tickets for this classic parable right now? You”ll save some bucks: Advance tickets are specially priced at only $8 for seniors and students, or just $10 a pop for everyone else. If you wait, those same general admission tickets will cost you an additional $2 apiece at the door. Discounts for groups and Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce members are available. Obtain your tickets directly at OPC’s ticket office, or save gas and purchase them securely online (without any service charges or processing fees) at the FullImpactTheater.org website. Keep in mind, as always, Full Impact Theater offers a money-back ticket guarantee on all its performances, so come out for a wonderful time since you literally have nothing to lose. If you have questions, please phone 248.609.9019.

About Tom and Ann Gendich

Founders of Rochester Media. Looking to provide great local news to all people in and around Rochester and Rochester Hills. Send them a note at info@rochestermedia.com.

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