Pubblicato in “Communications from the International Brecht Society”, 27, 1, June 1998, pp. 19-22.
Brecht completed Der gute Mensch von Sezuan in 1941. The kind-hearted prostitute Shen-Te has to assume the identity of wicked cousin Shui-Ta to protect herself and her future baby from exploiters. In order to survive, she must turn into a pitiless capitalist, since it’s impossible to be good in a society founded upon exploitation. For his staging of 1981, Giorgio Strehler represented Shui-Ta as a huge, terrifying puppet moving jerkily and tramping with an awkward gait, with slanting contortions that show Shen-Te’s efforts to change her nature. As she transforms herself into Shui-Ta, Andrea Jonasson says: “How hard is it to be cruel”. But this is the only way to help the others and herself.