“The Good Soul of Szechuan” is the first show to hit the boards of the McDaniel stage, and I, being a theatre kid myself, am excited to experience the show. I would hope that the McDaniel and Westminster community would be just as interested as I am, and coming up are some reasons why.
First, I have to note the fact that I am involved in the show, as I am planning on running on Stage Crew, dealing with the movement and arrangement of the set pieces that need handling. What this means? Well, I have personal experience with aspects of the show, and I know many of the people who are much more involved.
As a technician in the theatre, I am inclined to speak on behalf of the technical side first, so let’s start with the set. As soon as you walk up into the Mainstage, your eyes are drawn to massive set pieces set by either side of the proscenium (the boxy section where the curtains hang from) that are made up of lopsided triangles, drawing the eye to any number of off-kilter angles, keeping the audience wondering about the purpose of each piece, and how the set works in tandem with the story. In terms of lighting, another technical aspect of the theatre, there are very specific techniques that are being used.
Rosalie Edelston, lighting designer, spoke about drawing inspiration from visual kei, a Japanese style of fashion and music. “The way that I incorporated [visual kei] into my design,” says Rosalie, “was in my use of bold colour choices and stark shadows. My intentions are to separate the characters from the show from reality, even though the theme of the play relates directly to situations in society today.” This disconnect between what is real and what is beyond reality is something to contemplate when regarding the purpose of the play as a whole, and what the implications of that disconnect are.
Bertolt Brecht, a german playwright known for the Epic Theatre style, wrote the play. Stylistically, Epic Theatre strives to have the audience reflect upon them as to where they stand in terms of the themes and motifs of the show, rather than sympathize with the characters in the play. In addition to this, Elizabeth van den Berg, director, has developed a way to integrate Asian acting styles into the performance in an attempt to match the setting of the Chinese city of Szechuan.
Whitney Walker, an actress in “Good Soul” says, “We’ve integrated a lot of specifics from Noh and Kabuki theatre to create a world that no one has ever seen before.” In creating this new world, the performance is asking the audience to live in the shoes of the characters in an attempt to experience this new world for their own, and contemplating on decisions that would be made in those positions.
All in all, if any of this has sounded interesting, or if you feel like a bit of contemplation is needed in your life, or even if you just want an entertaining night with a group of friend, come out to McDaniel Theatre October 5th through the 8th. Curtain is at 7:30, so make sure to get there early and grab an ideal seat. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for senior citizens, as well as for McDaniel students and community. Enjoy the Show!