The main thrust of this study is to examine Bertolt Brecht work through the lens of Good Person of Szechwan. In carrying out this study, the researcher adopted a documentary approach which is the use of documents, public or private records, journals, books and dairies to support the view point or argument of an academic work (Ofordile, 2002). More also Secondary data was collected for this study which are second hand information already documented. Hence we used internet materials, journal articles.the study made use of five specific objectives as guide to the study. The theoretical framework to be adopted in this research is the sociological theory. The sociological theories are the core and underlying strength of the discipline.However, the study in chapter two and three made a critical exposition of the work of Bertolt Brecht drawing logical conclusion from Good Person of Szechwan.Based on the text it was recommended among others that Future researcher should consider research on Karl Marx and Marxism with a view to discuss the themes of Good Person in Marxist terms.
INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
1.1 Background to the study
Theatre is a dramatic art of communication. Communication means, “the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium”( Oxford Dictionaries ) . Theatre is mankind’s natural instinct. We gather the experience from our world . experience = information . So we gather lots of information or sensory information through five senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Through theatre we express in such a way that we experience something from our world. Theatre is an experience Catherine (2009). Theatre also informs. Actors share experience or information and audiences become expressive. Audiences also recall their experiences at the same time to watch the theatre. It is the basic relation between actor or performer and audience.
From the earliest production of The Good Person of Szechwan in Zurich, Switzerland’s Schauspielhaus Zurich in 1943, many critics have found much to praise. Since that time, however, many critics have also found the play to be exceptionally long in performance, usually running about three to three and a half hours, which sometimes lessens its impact. Many also agree that The Good Person of Szechwan is difficult for directors to interpret, often resulting in stylistically inconsistent productions. However, the play is often pointed to as one of the more accessible examples of Brecht’s concept of epic theater, entertaining and nonsentimental, though others believe it is too detached. In addition, the ideas in The Good Person of Szechwan have been appreciated more and more over time.
At the time of the first production in New York City, Brecht’s ideas about theater and the episodic structure of The Good Person of Szechwan were still considered unusual. Many critics commented on these aspects of the play. Comparing the play to Voltaire’s Candide, Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times, wrote “It is strange in form, nonsentimental in theme, and stimulating from several points of view.” His sentiments were echoed by Tom F. Driver of Christian Century. Brecht, he wrote, “invigorated the modern theater by establishing a stage technique which does away with theatrical illusion and appeals directly to the imagination and the intellect.”
This production, at New York City’s Phoenix Theatre, featured a controversial translation by Eric Bentley, who also directed the production. Robert Hatch in The Nation was especially critical of the translation, and how it affected the play: “Eric Bentley translated the play with what sounds to my ear like a warm appreciation of its flavor, but he has displayed it in the theatre as though he were dressing a museum.” Hatch believed “The production commits the worse sin of the theatre—it is boring. I think the fault is with the production….” Henry Hewes of the Saturday Review agreed with Hatch. Hewes argued, “there is much in it [his translation] that is awkward…. And lines that might have been funny in the original lose their humor….” Many scholars have commented on the inherent humor in Good Person. Some have pointed out that this humorous quality is often overlooked.
By 1970, when a new professional production in New York City’s Vivian Beaumont Theater opened, Brecht’s ideas had been widely discussed and studied. Though Brecht may have been better understood, many critics still believed it was difficult to do a good production of The Good Person of Szechwan with a unified style. Critics did not find
this in the new production. Clive Barnes of The New York Times wrote “The Good Woman is a play that should dance across the stage with a gentle mocking smile; it is one of the lightest of Brecht’s plays.” His colleague Walter Kerr, also of The New York Times, believed “Brecht still hasn’t been proved out, if that’s a proper phrase, in this country; we still wait for a director who will make it all come true.
Beginning in the mid-1970s, there were numerous productions of The Good Person of Szechwan in the United States that were highly stylized (a trend that would continue into the 1990s). Critics of the 1975-76 productions of the play at La Mama in New York City debated old questions, such as how important The Good Person of Szechwan was in Brecht’s canon. Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic was one of the few who placed it in the lower echelon. He wrote “The Good Woman is lesser Brecht. His best plays crystallize some aspects of the modern consciousness in new dramatic modes; his lesser ones are explicit, didactic, linear and relatively unresonant.”
In the late 1990s, many critics noted that American productions of The Good Person of Szechwan were being adapted to contemporary, familiar settings, and new scores were being written. Most praised these changes, in part because it made this play more accessible to modern audiences. Of a 1992 production at Emory University, Atlanta Journal and Constitution critic Roderick Robinson wrote “This isn’t a show that will appeal to Three’s Company zealots, but Brecht’s monumental questioning of humankind’s ways still has plenty to bite. The production has fine touches of wit….”
A 1994 adaptation by well-known playwright/ director Tony Kushner was set at the California-Mexico border, with characters retaining Chinese names and with a score by Los Lobos. Don Braunagel of Variety hit on one long-term issue with the production. He wrote, “La Jolla Playhouse’s extraordinary synergy with Bertolt Brecht continues with this superlative presentation, with Lisa Peterson demonstrating why the playwright, directed properly, is timeless.” A 1999 production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival featured a different translation, but was similarly American in its feel. Steve Winn of the San Francisco Chronicle believed the play remained relevant: “The Good Person of Szechwan feels a lot like life in the ‘90s.”
1.2 Statement of research problem
Bertolt Brecht was a theatre practitioner. He made and shaped theatre in a way that had a huge impact upon its development. .He wanted to make his audience think and famously said that theatre audiences at that time “hang up their brains with their hats in the cloakroom”. Despite the various texts of Bertolt, Little attention has been given to his texts as no work has ever been carried out on his text by Nigerian scholars. This missing gaps the present study tends to fill.
1.3 Specific Objectives of the Study
The objective of the study is to critically examine the work of Bertolt Brecht through the lens of Good Person of Szechwan. The study tends to specifically examine;
- To analyze the origin of Acting and Theatre
- To give an historical account of Bertolt Brecht and his Epic theatre
- To analyze the various characterization of the actors in the play “Good Person of Szechwan”
- To understand the Character Analysis of Lady in Red in Good Person of Szechwan
- To understand the Short Character Analysis of Lady in White in Good Person of Szechwan
Creswell (1994) defines the research methodology as the system of collecting data for a research project. Therefore, this section presents the methodology that has been used to conduct this research.
Qualitative method was the central point of this study. A qualitative study design is defined as “an inquiry process of understanding a social or human problems, based on building a complex, or holistic picture, formed with words, reporting detailed views of respondents or informants, and or contacted in a natural setting” (Cresswell, 1994, p. 2). This was a desktop study where already published sources were used. Fahnestock and Secor (1990, p. 77) indicate that qualitative is “rather deductive, since we will begin with some assumptions about argument as widely held as possible, which we then test against a body of evidence as representative as we could make it, on the way to some conclusions, as tentative as they must be”. The qualitative research design is concerned with the understanding, experience and interpretation of the social world. It is both flexible and sensitive to the social context in which data are produced (Masson, 2002, p. 3). The qualitative method is used to organise and stimulate the meaning of the content in the novels and draw conclusions from them. This method is also good in gaining in-depth understanding and providing descriptions of how characters bring forth the feminist arguments in connection with rhetoric. According to Mlambo (2013), qualitative methods are also effective in identifying intangible factors whose role in the research issue may not be easily apparent. Therefore, since a qualitative method was used in this study, there has not been any fieldwork, but rather a literary analysis of imaginative short fiction.
1.5 Expected Contribution to Knowledge
This study adds to the growing number study on the work of Bertolt Brecht texts . It aims at contributing to the understanding of theatre and play. In addition, this would also assist men to understand that it is normal for women to have autonomous power to realise their dreams. Readers of this study should understand what effective and non-effective rhetorical strategies are, and how it might be possible for women to be included in all spheres of life. This study contributes to interdisciplinary studies; particularly feminism. Interdisciplinary studies are important in opening avenues for reading and research.
1.6 Scope of the study
The study is limited to the critical examination of the play The Good Person of Szechwan. The results obtained from this might not be generalized.
1.7 Theoretical framework
The theoretical framework to be adopted in this research is the sociological theory. The sociological theories are the core and underlying strength of the discipline. These theories are responsible for guiding researchers in their studies and also guide practitioners in their intervention strategies. Without the knowledge of this theory, a practitioner cannot know the right way to apply help when needed, it also provides ways to understand how to see the larger social picture in one’s personal life.
A theory on the other hand can be seen as a set of interrelated concept used to describe explain and predict how society and its parts are related to each other. The sociological theory is like a pair of glasses that helps the researcher to see happenings in a society clearly. Sociological theory can be used to study society millions of people in a state, country even world level and when a theory is applied at this level, it is considered to be a Macro theory this theory best fit the study of massive numbers of people i.e typically conflict and functional theories. Macro theories are those theories which best fit the study of small groups and their numbers.
On a general note, sociological theories are classified into four main parts: structural or functional, symbolic interactionism theory, social exchange theory and conflict theory.
Social exchange theory claims that a society is composed of ever present interactions among individuals is who attempt to maximize words while minimizing costs. This theory is very similar to conflict theory in terms of assumption and it uses formula to measure the choice making process. (Reward – cost)
Symbolic interactionism theory. This theory comes in two theoretical forms; symbolic interaction and social exchange. The symbolic interaction is used for theory for understanding other people, improving communication, and learning and teaching skills etc it also at helping the researcher understand that man by its very social nature is very symbolic.
Functional or structural theory. It claims that the society is in a state of balance and kept that way through the function of society’s component parts. Socialization, religious measurement, injustices, peace, friendship, love, healthcare etc are just a few of evidence of functional process in our society.
Conflict theory. This is especially useful in understanding war, wealth and poverty, the loves and the love notes, revolution strife, exploitation, child abuse slavery, and more conflict-related social phenomenon. This theory claims that society is in a state of perpetual conflict and competition for limited resources. This theory assumes that those who have perpetually try to increase their wealth at expensive and suffering of those who have not. Falola agrees that “insufficient, inaccessible and even distribution of resources are some reasons that people natures to wage wars against one another” (28). Therefore the purpose of this research, the conflict theory would be used throughout the study as if affects the care subject of women and children in war situation.