“Is love possible in a capitalist, dog eat dog, world or will the systems in place automatically destroy the good and loving people like Shen Te?”
Systems, Supply, Demand and Love IN Szechwan.
For much of his career, Brecht explored the highs and lows of capitalism in plays like St. Joan of the Stockyards, The Rise and Fall of Mahogany, and The Good Person of Szechwan. In the dirty, capitalist world of Good Person the inhabitants can’t afford to have morals.
Originally titled The Product of Love, Brecht sought to explore in Good Person the social and economic terms of love as a commodity and created a situation where someone who sells “love” eventually falls in love. Even after experiencing romantic love, our heroine struggles with other forms of love, self-love and familial love. Shen Te in the climactic final scene admits, “To be good to others and to myself, was too hard…Who can long avoid evil, when people need to eat, and there’s never any food?” Scholar Marc Silberman, who studies the work of Brecht at the University of Wisconsin, says, “For people like Brecht, market capitalism had a destructive power.” Throughout the play, Brecht asks his audience to consider, “Is love possible in a capitalist, dog eat dog, world or will the systems in place automatically destroy the good and loving people like Shen Te?”
By Ernie Nolan, The Good Person of Szechwan Director and Cor Theatre Ensemble Member.