The Brecht parable ‘The Good Person of Szechwan’ is set in China between the wars. It was originally performed in Switzerland with an all German speaking cast playing the Chinese parts. So for this version we wanted to source people from the correct geographical region of the world.
This project kicked off by going to a Chinese restaurant on Parnell street. Our first recruit came with us that night. A German Korean, on Erasmus in Trinity studying drama. She helped set up meetings to find a cast. They didn’t have to be actors. We were looking for personality and presence. People who had lived and might have a story to tell.
We gathered together three Chinese people – A budding actor who works in a Chinese takeaway, a singer who works for a tech firm, a scholar doing a PHD in Trinity on globalisation and theatre, and two Mongolian accountants who compete in pole dancing competitions. Five lives were now in the mix. Their stories and observations would provide the ammunition to make the piece as well as scenes from the original play adapted to modern day Parnell street.
We asked,how did they all wind up in Ireland? What do they make of Irish people? They talked. The loneliness of emigration. Casual to in your face racism. Ambition to reach for the skyscrapers. Family duty over personal freedom. Love lorn Mongolian monks and broken dreams.
In the end it comes down to questions in Brecht’s original- Is it possible to be good and survive and flourish in the world when you have no money? Can we be truly free to choose our own path, or does it always come down to the filthy lucre?
“Love or Money? Don’t ask those stupid questions? We choose money because that’s the thing will get us out of misery. That’s the only thing we can hold real in our hands. Money can save you”.
‘I would rather cry in an BMW than laugh on a bicycle’.
We began to focus in on the journey of Ashley Xie, and her burning desire to work as an actor in Ireland, as she plays the lead Molly Xiu in our adaptation.
She became the beating heart of the show.
The Good person.
Cast and Creative Team