The Good Person of Szechwan announced by Lyric Hammersmith, ETT and Sheffield Theatres

Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, ETT and Sheffield Theatres today announce a new co-production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan, written by Nina Segal (In the Night Time [Before The Sun Rises], directed by Sheffield Theatres RTYDS Associate Artistic Director Anthony Lau (Anna Karenina), and commissioned by ETT due to open in Spring 2023.

The production will run at Sheffield Theatres from 11 March to 01 April with opening night on 15 March and will transfer to the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, London from 15 April to 13 May with opening night on Thursday 20 April 2023. Casting and the full creative team will be announced in due course.

Rachel O’Riordan, Artistic Director of Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, said, “I am delighted to be partnering with English Touring Theatre (ETT) and Sheffield Theatres on this ambitious new vision for Brecht’s extraordinary play. Nina Segal is a writer with huge heart, and I am so excited for what she and director Anthony Lau reimagine for this extraordinary story of human resilience and the power of compassion. Lyric audiences will be thrilled to see this ambitious, large-scale production on our beautiful stage in West London. With a visionary creative team, Brecht’s passionate, humane and moving portrait of a community will be something we can all relate to.”

Anthony Lau, RTYDS Associate Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, said, “As the cost of living rises to dangerous levels and the number of billionaires in the world grows, Brecht’s play about capitalism’s relationship with morality is fiercely resonant. He examines these ideas with humour and playfulness, to better shed light on the tragedy and seriousness of a world where everyday kindness is disintegrating.

I am hugely excited to revive Brecht’s masterpiece alongside Nina Segal, the adaptor of this new version, and Georgia Lowe, the designer. They are both artists whose imagination, rigour and sense of mischief will inject new impetus to this production. 

 Performed by a company of actors predominantly of East Asian heritage, audiences can look forward to a freewheeling story of gods, goodness and greed.”

Richard Twyman, Artistic Director and CEO of ETT, said, “This production coincides with the 80th anniversary of Brecht’s original, so it is significant that it will be the first time in the UK that it is led by East Asian creatives and with a predominantly East Asian cast. We first started working on the development of this project almost five years ago, but it is one of those prescient plays that has grown in relevance since. It's one of Brecht's funniest, most insightful and timeless pieces of work, that explores the pressures on morality in a capitalist system, the cost of living, inequality, corruption, and power under patriarchy. 

Brecht is a mischievous, playful writer who pokes fun at power and I know that Nina, Anthony and their team are going to make this a fun and insightful night out. We’re delighted to be collaborating on this historic production with our partners at Sheffield Crucible & Lyric Hammersmith Theatre.”

What is the cost of being good?’

Three gods search for just one honest person on earth to justify humanity’s existence. Finding Shen Te, penniless but principled, they reward her with a life-changing amount of cash. But starting her own business in a money centred, unequal society, her fortune soon turns to frustration as the more kindness she shows, the more complicated life becomes.

The Good Person of Szechwan is written by Bertolt Brecht, adapted by Nina Segal, directed by Anthony Lau, design by Georgia Lowe, lighting design by Jessica Hung Han Yun, and casting by Jacob Sparrow.

Creative Team Biographies

Bertolt Brecht (Writer) the German-born playwright, poet and director, Bertolt Brecht was born in Augsburg, Germany in February 1898. Following a period working as assistant to Max Reinhardt at the famous Deutsches Theater, he established himself as a playwright and director during the 1920s and early 1930s with plays such as Baal, Man is Man, The Threepenny Opera and The Mother. It was during this period that he started to form his theories of epic theatre which informed so much of his later work.

In 1930, the premier of Brecht and Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogonny, caused a riot as the increasingly influential Nazi party objected to its morality and critical tone.  When Hitler came to power in 1933, Brecht and his wife, actress Helene Weigel, left Germany and lived in a number of European cities before eventually settling in the USA in 1941 where he remained until 1947. During the war years, he wrote many of his best known plays, including The Life of Galileo, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mother Courage and her Children and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and also published an anthology of poetry, Poems in Exile. He returned to Europe in 1947 and shortly after his arrival formed the Berliner Ensemble. His post-war plays include Mr Puntila and his Man Matti and an adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone. 

Brecht died in Berlin on 14th August 1956 and remains a hugely influential theatre practitioner throughout the world.

Nina Segal (Adaptor) is a playwright and TV writer. Her play In The Night Time (Before The Sun Rises) was produced at the Gate to critical acclaim. Nina is currently under commission to Soho Theatre, ETT, the Rose Theatre, the RSC and The Unicorn Theatre. Her most recent play, O, Island!, was shortlisted for the prestigious George Devine Award. For TV, Nina wrote on Hanna Series 2, for NBC and Amazon. She has two script commissions with ITV Studios and is developing other TV projects in the UK.

Anthony Lau (Director) is RTYDS Associate Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres. He was previously Laboratory Associate Director at Nuffield Southampton Theatres and trained as a director at LAMDA and at the National Theatre Studio. For Sheffield Theatres, credits include: ROCK, Anna Karenina and The Band Plays On (Co-Director). Other credits as Director include: The Shadow Factory and Juicy and Delicious (Nuffield Southampton Theatres); A Better Man and The Cherry Orchard parallel project (Young Vic); The Common Land (Rose Theatre Kingston); Dreaming in America (Shoreditch Town Hall); Still Life/Red Peppers (Old Red Lion); The Taste of Us (HighTide Festival); I am a Camera (Southwark Playhouse).

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