The Good Person of Szechwan

Directed by Ernie Nolan
By Bertolt Brecht
Translation by Tony Kushner

Letter from the Director

I would start this note by saying, “I am the whore of Szechwan,” but I believe that Mr. Brecht the playwright would have issues with my identifying with the main character of our play, so I will say, “Trying to be a good person is tough, very tough.” You see, I come from a long line of “helpers.” Growing up, I heard inspiring stories about my great grandmother assisting Jewish children after anti-Semitic attacks in her village and how my grandmother would travel to Romania during the Cold War and smuggle in supplies to those in need. I witnessed my own mother’s dedication to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit, watching her knit sweaters for stuffed animals that went to children in need at Christmas and never seeing her pass someone on the street when they asked for money. I thought that I entered the ranks of these “do gooders” when I was named the “Man for Others” when I graduated high school, the social justice equivalent to the valedictorian at my Jesuit prep school, and had tried to always be there for friends and students in need. But more and more lately I find myself like Shen Te, sorry again Mr. Brecht, wondering, “How can I be good when everything is so expensive?” When I go on my morning run, I pass by a tent city near Lake Shore Drive. I want to stop. I want to help. I want to feed everyone, but I smile and say “Good morning” and pass by listening to my dance music on my iPhone 6. I know what I would like to do, but I also know I can’t afford to do it. Between my own house payments and insurance and credit cards and loans, choosing to be good would be a sacrifice that would cost me. I feel stuck. What can I do? Can I do anything? I think Mr. Brecht would be happy to know that instead of merely questioning alone in my home I am actively engaging others by presenting this debate on stage. As you are confronted with this play, apart from interpreting the world, I hope you seek to change it.

-Ernie Nolan

Letter from the Artistic Director

Welcome to our final show this season, The Good Person of Szechwan! We are excited to be back at A Red Orchid Theatre, where Cor produced our first show Skin Tight and began an incredible journey that has led all of us here tonight. I want to thank you for your time in joining us and encourage you to become a part of our Cor Community if you have not already done so. I invite you to contact me personally at tosha@cortheatre.org to find out more.

We have another great season coming up this January, including a coproduction with Stage Left Theatre of Maria Irene Fornes’ What of the Night, directed by Carlos Murillo.  A Pulitzer Prize finalist, it follows an extended family whose lives are intertwined even as they try to escape the ties that bind them. A sprawling epic told in intimate vignettes that spans across time and geography, this lyrical story lays bare the difference between the hunger of the soul and the hunger of the ego. Sounds enticing, right?

We at Cor continually revisit the questions of Why theatre? Why now? What are we asking our audience? Right now, we are presenting a highly theatrical play for you that explores our socio-economical landscape, and are asking: What does it mean to be a good person? Can a truly good person exist in our society today? We are not interested in providing resolute answers. Our goal is to provoke thought, conversation, and more questions. We thank you for asking the questions with us.

I leave you with this quote from one of my favorite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke: “Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”


Tosha Fowler
Artistic Director

About the Playwright

German playwright, poet, and director Bertolt Brecht (playwright, 1898-1956) established himself as a playwright during the 1920s and early 1930s with plays such as Baal, Man is Man, The Threepenny Opera, and The Mother. In 1933, as Hitler came to power in Germany, he fled to Scandinavia before settling in the U.S. 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. The Good Person of Szechwan, Brecht’s parable of good and evil, was first performed in 1943 and remains one of his most produced plays worldwide.

Tony Kushner (translator) is the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, screenwriter, and author whose works have played everywhere from Broadway to HBO. His play Angels in America earned him the Pulitzer Prize, among many other awards. His other acclaimed plays include Slavs, Homebody/Kabul, and Caroline, or Change.


JosNBanks2016Jos N. Banks God 2/Sister in Law/ Guard
Jos is thrilled to be making his Cor Theatre debut! Jos studied Musical Theater & Costume Design at Millikin University. He was on national tour with Hair (Hud) and The Color Purple (Harpo). His regional credits include A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Polarity Theatre), Far from Heaven (Porchlight Music Theatre), Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys (Raven Theatre), The Story of Curtis Mayfield and the Other Cinderella (Black Ensemble Theatre), Smokey’s Joe Cafe (Theo Ubique/Royal George), Black Nativity, Dream Girls, Hairspray, Alice in Wonderland, and High School Musical 2. He can be seen in 20th Century Fox’s “The Chicago Code” and Rise Against’s music video “Make It Stop” (Lead). Jos has also interned with Micheal Kors at Teen Vogue Magazine in NYC and was nominated best costume designer for the 2012 Black Theater Alliance Awards. Be FEARLESS. Proverbs 3:5. Proudly Represented by: Paonessa Talent Agency.

Dawn BlessDawn Bless Wang the Waterseller 
While singing and visual arts were her earliest talents, Dawn has continued to develop into an experienced spoken word artist, actress, and playwright. Her theatre credits include: Dreamgirls (Porchlight Theater), HMS Pinafore (Light Opera Works), Seussical The Musical (West Virginia Public Theater), The Jackie Wilson Story (Black Ensemble Theater),  Once On This Island (Yellow Alligator Theatre), The Black Nativity (Congo Square Theater), and many more. Writing credits include the musicals Don’t Shed A Tear: The Story of Billie Holiday, Sounds So Good Makes You Wanna Holla: Old School Vs. Nu Skool, Tribute To The Black Crooner, as well as a contributing writer to Eve Of Jackie, a one man show performed by Broadway performer Chester Gregory. She currently sings background with Terisa Griffin from The Voice, works as a director, playwright, and contracted educator at schools in the Chicago area.  

Chris BrickhouseChris Brickhouse Sun/Husband 
Good Person of Szechwan marks Chris’s first performance with Cor Theatre after a taking a short hiatus for film pursuits. Chris can be seen in the award-winning short Scotty Works Out and its follow-up Scotty and Josh Get Enlightened, the web-series Humane Resources by Shaun Baer, Chicago Med, and multiple commercials. He was previously on stage in Mary Arrchie’s break-neck environmental piece The Brig as Six.  Chris is also a proud ensemble member of Cor Theatre.  Chris is represented by Actors Talent Group.

Michael BuonoMichael Buono Nephew
Michael is excited to be making his Chicago Debut. He is a recent graduate of DePaul University’s Theatre School and his college credits include: In The Heights (Sonny), The Day John Henry Came to School, Prospero’s Storm, and 12 Angry Men. His credits from Philadelphia are Dog Sees God (C.B), The Less Than Human Club (Harley). He can be seen on ABC Primetime’s What Would You Do? with John Quinones. Michael is also an accomplished singer. He is the winner of the Best Vocalist award from the Boston Heritage Music Festival. He has been on tour with American Music Abroad (Europe Tour 2010). His other vocal credits include Will Todd’s Mass in Blue (Lincoln Center, NYC) and the Philadelphia event Broadway Bound, where he performed alongside the cast of Memphis and shared the stage with Chita Rivera.

Ben ChangBen Chang God 3/Grandfather/ Old Prostitute
Ben is thrilled to make his Cor Theatre debut. His Chicago credits include Caught at Sideshow Theatre, A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre, The Consultant at Signal Ensemble Theatre, Pal Joey at Porchlight Music Theatre, Volpone at City Lit Theater, Iphigeneia at Aulis with Lights Out Theatre Company, and The Blue Shadow at Lifeline Theatre. Regionally, he appeared in The Wonderful World of Dissocia at Theater Alliance of Washington, D.C., Red Herring at Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre, The Paper Dragon at Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara, and a touring production of Romeo and Juliet with North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. He has appeared on the television show Empire (FOX).

Bella HeadshotIsabella Karina Coelho Niece
Isabella is thrilled to work with Cor Theatre again after understudying for Christina,The Girl King earlier this season. She is ecstatic to work with Ernie Nolan having previously appeared in his productions of A Charlie Brown Christmas at The Broadway Playhouse and The Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Other credits include: The B.F.G., Elephant and Piggie: We are in a Play (Apollo Theater), Uncle Vanya (National Cool Theater), Zipped and Pelted (Wulfden Theatre), and Fairytales: Not Suitable for Children (Horse of a Different Color). She is a resident teaching artist at Free Street Theater and a proud graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. isabellacoelho.com

Aida DelazAida Delaz God 1/Carpenter/Guard
Aida is excited to be working with Cor Theater. She is a recent DePaul graduate, BFA Acting/BA Spanish. Some of her favorite Theatre School credits include The Trojan Women, The Day John Henry Came to School, Failure: A Love Story, and The House of Bernarda Alba. During her free time she serves as a Spanish tutor for young adults, reads comic books, works on her stage makeup skills, and writes solo pieces.

Niko KourtisNiko Kourtis Shu Fu/Wife
Niko’s recent credits include A Splintered Soul (ARLA Productions), Animals Commit Suicide (First Floor Theatre), Bent (The Other Theatre Company), Angels In America Parts I&II (Kansas City Repertory Theatre), Cock (Profiles Theatre), The Normal Heart (TimeLine Theatre), Mercury Fur (Ex-Pats Theatre Company), Emma (New Suit Theatre Company), and A Family United (The Abbie Hoffman Festival). Much love and thanks to Ernie and everyone at Cor Theatre! Niko is represented by Gray Talent.

Narciso LoboNarciso Lobo Policeman/Mrs Yang/Unemployed Man 
Narciso is a proud graduate of Columbia College Chicago. He was last seen in Sideshow Theatre Company’s No More Sad Things. Narciso has worked with Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Long Wharf Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Chicago Children’s Theatre, A-Squared Theatre Workshop, CIRCA Pintig, dueEast Theatre Company, and Shaking the Tree. He is also a singer-songwriter, performing under the moniker Seeso (seesomusic.com). He can be seen performing and teaching workshops at ukulele festivals across the country.

JeriMarshall2016 Headshot WEBJeri Marshall Mrs Shin 
Jeri is excited to be making her Cor Theatre Debut. She is a recent DePaul Theatre School Graduate, with an MFA in Acting. Her favorite Theatre School Credits include In the Heights, Joe’s Turner’s Come and Gone, and Circle Mirror Transformation. She is a 2015 Sarah Siddons Scholarship Recipient and an Equity Membership Candidate. Jeri is represented by Gray Talent Group. Jeri thanks Ernie, Will, and the entire Cor Theatre team for opportunity to collaborate and explore re-imaginings of theatre.

Lea PascalLea Pascal Mrs Mi Tzu
Lea is thrilled to be working with Cor Theatre. Her other Chicago credits include Henry V (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Medea with Child (Sideshow Theatre Company), The Arsonists (Strawdog Theatre Company), 500 Clown Trapped (500 Clown), Lighthousekeeping (A New Leaf Theatre), The Improv Play (InFusion Theatre Company), and The Elephant and the Whale (Chicago Children’s Theatre), as well as productions with Lucky Plush Dance Company, Redmoon, and About Face Theatre. Ms. Pascal is a graduate of L’Ecole Jacques Lecoq, Paris, France, and the Second City Conservatory.  

Will Von VogtWill Von Vogt Shen Te/Shui Ta
Will is an actor, producer, and casting director hailing from Kennebunkport, Maine. He received his training from the Theatre School at DePaul University with a BFA in Acting. His favorite acting credits include Bent, A Map of Virtue and Christina, The Girl King (Cor Theatre), Romeo and Juliet, The Heidi Chronicles, Empire Falls (HBO), Google Me Love (produced by the Wachowskis), and Chicago Fire (NBC.) Will is a proud company member of Cor Theatre, on the curating team of Salonathon, the Associate Producer of the 2015 Great Chicago Fire Festival, and was a recipient of a 2015 Windy City Media “30 Under 30” award for his LGBT work in the arts.  He is represented by Paonessa Talent.

Bernell LassaiBernell Lassai III Understudy
Bernell was born and raised in Chicago, IL. His regional Credits include Antony & Cleopatra at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Tarzan and West Side Story at Bigfork Summer Playhouse, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Romeo & Juliet, and All Shook Up at Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. Bernell is a recent graduate of The Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University.

Ginger_Leopoldo_PhotoGinger Leopoldo Understudy
Ginger is honored and grateful to be part of this production and sends her love to the cast, crew, and production team!  She was recently seen as Atsuko in Prologue Theatre’s production of Tea and as director for Reclaiming Life: Silencing Stigma, an afternoon of stories about mental health in collaboration with CIRCA Pintig and the Asian-American Studies program at UIC. She has been an Artistic Associate with A-Squared Theatre Workshop, company member of Old World Theatre Company, The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery, and Democracy Burlesque (where only the politics are naked!) Ginger received her M. A. in Theatre from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Production Team

ErnieErnie Nolan Director/Dramaturg 
Ernie is an award-winning director and playwright who received the Illinois Theatre Association’s 2014 award for Excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences. He is a company member of Cor Theatre and last year he directed Love and Human Remains, which New City Chicago named one of the “Top Five Dramas of 2015.” For Chicago Playworks, he has directed The BFG, The Giver, The Witches, A Wrinkle in Time, Number the Stars, and The Day John Henry Came to School. His work at The Broadway Playhouse includes A Charlie Brown Christmas, Fancy Nancy The Musical, Pinkalicious, The Cat in the Hat, Cinderella, Charlotte’s Web, and the world premiere of Hansel and Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat with Justin Roberts. Ernie’s playwrighting has been produced nationally and at such theatres as The Coterie, First Stage, Walnut Street, Orlando Rep, and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. He has written commissions for Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD, La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, CA, The Milwaukee Zoological Society, and his latest commission, My Broken Doll, for the Institute for Holocaust Education and The Circle Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska. Also a resident artist of The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, MO, he has directed and choreographed world premieres by such Tony-nominated artists as Willy and Rob Reale, Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and Bill Russell and Henry Krieger. Ernie is an Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at The Theatre School at DePaul University as well as the Vice-President of Theatre for Young Audiences USA. He is a proud graduate of both the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Program (BFA Musical Theatre) and The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA Directing).

Tosha Fowler Producer
Tosha  is the co-founder of Cor Theatre, where she produced and acted in the critically acclaimed Skin Tight by Gary Henderson. Also with Cor, she co-produced, wrote, and performed in her original solo show, Mami, Where’d my O go? Fowler has produced theatre for almost ten years for companies including The Chicago Fringe Festival, The Academy Theatre in Atlanta, and her founding company, Fowl Brick in Savannah, Georgia. As an actress, Fowler has performed in Chicago with Lifeline Theatre, Emerald City, MPAACT, Cock & Bull, and Circle Theatre. She has also toured throughout the Southeast, where notable performances include Roberta in Shanley’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and Laura in The Glass Menagerie. Fowler has worked as a playwright with American Theatre Company’s Chicago Chronicle Project, the DePaul University Diversity Initiative, and the Academy Theater. She has directed plays including The IronmistressA Doctor’s Stories, Poof!, Bash, and Bully Breakdown in HD. Fowler is an adjunct professor in Theatre at DePaul University and she holds an MFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul.

Meredith Matthews Production Stage Manager
Meredith is excited to be a part of her first production at Cor Theatre. Her stage management credits at Portland Playhouse include: A Christmas Carol in 2014 and 2015, How We Got On, and Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play. Her stage management credits at Emerald City Theatre include Skippyjon Jones in the Cique de Ole, Schoolhouse Rock Live!, and Charlotte’s Web. Meredith is a proud graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Claire Chrzan Lighting Designer
Claire is excited to collaborate with Cor again after previously designing Love and Human Remains. Her other design credits include The Mutilated (A Red Orchid Theatre), The Distance (Haven Theatre), Caught (Sideshow), After Miss Julie (Strawdog), The Terrible (New Colony), The Guardians and Uncle Bob (Mary-Arrchie), A Number, Scenes from an Execution, and Sweet Phoebe (Runcible), Best Beloved: The Just So Stories and The Pied Piper (Forks and Hope), A Doll’s House (Definition Theatre), Recent Tragic Events, The Pitchfork Disney, Owners, Really Really, Terminus, and Hot ‘N Throbbing (Interrobang Theatre Project). Claire also serves as production stage manager for Hubbard Street’s HS2. clairechrzandesigns.com

Alarie Hammock Costume Designer
Alarie is a company member at Cor Theatre where she designed costumes for Christina, The Girl King and Love and Human Remains. She has had the pleasure of working with so many wonderful people in the Chicago theater community! Some of her design credits include Route 66’s The Downpour, Cicada and Twist of Water, Gift Theater’s Royal Society of Antarctica, as well as Steep’s Making Noise Quietly. He other design credits include Emerald City’s Fancy Nancy, Hansel and Gretel, and Charlotte’s Web as well as Emerald City’s Little theater productions of Bingo’s Birthday and Teddy Bear Picnic. She works as a first hand/stitcher at the Steppenwolf costume shop where, in addition to Steppenwolf works, she has worked on projects for Court Theater, Lookingglass, and the Lyric Opera.

Matt Reich Sound Designer 
Matt is thrilled to be doing his first production with Cor Theatre. Matt is a recent graduate of The Theater School a Depaul University with a BFA in Sound Design. He has had the pleasure of working with many companies in town, including Collaboraction, Hell in a Handbag, Circle Theatre, Babes with Blades, and Cock & Bull, with whom he is a proud company member.

Stefin J. Steberl Scenic and Properties Designer 
Stefin is a costume and scenic designer for theater and film based out of Chicago. Mr. Steberl’s recent Chicago credits include Mary-Arrchie’s productions of Glass Menagerie, Superior Donuts, and The Brig. Other regional credits include Sweet Confinement, Too Much Memory, Days of Late (SiNNERMAN Ensemble), Our Bad Magnet, Mud People, Riff Raff, Red Light Winter (Mary-Arrchie), Long Day’s Journey…, The White Airplane (Polarity Ensemble), The Scarlet Ibis, Pull of the Moon (16th Street Theater), La Cage Aux Follies (Bohemian Ensemble), Summer and Smoke, and Bus Stop (The Den). Mr. Steberl is currently the Co-Artistic Director of SiNNERMAN Ensemble. Mr Steberl was previously the resident designer for Columbia College’s Spectacle Fortuna and studied in Columbia College Chicago’s Theatrical Design Program.

Tony Buzutto Fight Director 
Tony has been a Chicago actor for over ten years now and is a company member with Cor Theatre. He as worked with Chicago Shakes, Steppenwolf,, Next, Lifeline, and BackStage (to name a few). He was also privileged to be a part of Cor’s highly successful production of Skin Tight. Tony is very excited to be working with Tosha and Cor again. In addition to theatre, Tony has appeared on television (Chicago Fire, Boss, Crisis), in film, and voiced commercials for radio. He holds an MFA from Wayne State in Detroit and is a proud member of SAG/AFTRA. Tony also finds it extremely awkward to write a bio and thinks talking about himself in the third person is funny. Tony is represented by Paonessa Talent. Thank you for supporting live theatre. Enjoy!

Erin Collins Assistant Production Manager
Erin is excited to return to The Theatre School at DePaul University in the fall for her third year as a BFA Stage Management student. Her previous Theatre School credits include The Merchant of Venice (stage manager), Peter Pan and Wendy (assistant stage manager), The Lady From The Sea (assistant stage manager), and Vigils (assistant stage manager). She was a stage management intern for California Music Circus and the stage manager of Three Musketeers and Much Ado About Nothing at The Sacramento Shakespeare Festival.

Danielle B. Szabo Assistant Director 
Danielle proudly hails from Flint, Michigan. She is currently a senior at DePaul University’s The Theatre School, studying directing and philosophy. Previous credits include Dramaturg for Nambi E. Kelley’s
Translation of Likes (directed by Ron OJ Parson) and Assistant Director for In the Blood (directed by Nathan Singh). In the fall, she will be assisting Cameron Knight for The Theatre School’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

Nick Nyquist Assistant Stage Manager 
Nick will be returning to The Theatre School at DePaul University for his second year this fall. His Theatre School credits are Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (directed by Phyllis E. Griffin), Prospero’s Storm (directed by Damon Kiely), and What the F**k is Goin’ on in Kilgore, Texas? (directed by Coya Paz). Nick is originally from the Seattle area in Washington State.

 Cor Staff

Matthew Gregory Hollis Photographer
Janie Killips
Video Production
Elyse Cowles
Marketing Manager
Jay Kelly and L.C. Williams & Associates
Rae Shuman
Graphic Design

Cor Ensemble

Tosha Fowler Artistic Director
Elyse Cowles
Associate Artistic Producer
Stefin Steberl
Associate Artistic Producer
Claire Meyers
Development Associate, Box Officer Manager
Will Von Vogt
Casting Director
Chris Brickhouse
Marketing Associate
Adam Gutkin
Technical Director
Topher Kielbasa
Literary Manager
Ernie Nolan
Tony Buzutto
Alarie Hammock
Jeffery Levin
Eric Vigo

Cor Board

Scott Sammon Chair 
Stan Rosendahl
Vice Chair
Nicole Sunder
Tosha Fowler
Robbie Lane
Dustin Rigsby
Mike Sanders
Carly Borem
Elizabeth Fiden
Carley Kozel

Special Thanks

The Theatre School at DePaul University
Kristen Fitzgerald & A Red Orchid Theatre Company
Claudia Jendron & Temperance Beer Company
Four Moon Tavern
Izakaya Lounge
Brian Crawford
Hotel Lincoln

Cor’s Circles of Giving

This year, we have launched Cor Theatre’s Donor Circle to recognize the individuals and organizations who help us produce our work.

Please consider supporting our acts of courage and our art. All donations to Cor are tax deductible. To learn more about how to join our Donor Circle, please visit our website or email Claire Meyers at claire@cortheatre.org.

Gold: Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
Silver: Robert Vosters, Elyse Cowles, McGuffin Creative Group, Inc.
Bronze: Shawn Tumanov
Sapphire: Michael Meadows, Laura Furman, William Trumbull, Linda Mauro

Temperance Beer is a proud supporter of Cor Theatre.