Der gute Mensch von Sezuan

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, [1] is a 1941 parable play by German poet, playwright, and theatre director Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) [2].

The original text

The original text was developed in collaboration with Margarete Steffin [3] and Ruth Berlau [4]. The development of the playtext started in 1938 but was not completed until 1941, while Brecht was in exile in the USA.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English by Eric Bentley as The Good Woman of Setzuan (1956).

Translated into English by John Willett and Ralph Manheim as The Good Person of Szechwan (1964).

The Eric Bentley English version translated into Afrikaans by *** as Die Goeie Mens van Setzuan for PACOFS in 1974.

Translated from the original German into Afrikaans by Johann van Heerden as Die Goeie Mens van Sezuan in 1976.

In 1996 Janet Suzman and Gcina Mhlope adapted Brecht's play and set the action in South Africa under the title The Good Woman of Sharkville.

Translated into English by David Harrower [5] as The Good Soul of Szechuan in 2008.

Performance history in South Africa

1958: In March The Good Woman of Setzuan, the Eric Bentley translation, was staged at the Little Theatre in Cape Town, directed by Rosalie van der Gucht, with Percy Sieff, Eveline Garratt, Elizabeth Bennett, Chris van den Berg, Denice Donegan, Phyllis Schaffer, Karl Oettle, Louis Franks, Eugene Rakoff, Hymie Gien, Viv Rakoff and Tony Puma.

1965: For the twenty-first birthday of the East Rand Theatre Club Leonard Schach directed the Eric Bentley translation with a cast including Alan Brooke, Denice Etherington, Stanley Hill, Ethel London and others. Decor and costumes by Chris van den Berg.

1974: In October Die Goeie Mens van Setzuan the Afrikaans translation by *** was staged by PACOFS, directed by William Egan, with a cast including Ernst Eloff, Annelize van der Ryst Wim Vorster and Francesca Bantock. Stage manager Mavis Lilenstein.

1976: The Van Heerden Afrikaans translation Die Goeie Mens van Sezuan was staged by the Universiteitsteater Stellenbosch in the H.B. Thom Theatre at the Drama Department at Stellenbosch University, directed by Johann van Heerden, with Elsabé Wessels (Shen Te/Shui Ta), Johan J. Fourie (Wang), Chris Truter (Shu Fu), Elizabeth Archer (Vrou), Suzette Eksteen (Mevrou Shin), Karien Griessel (Mevrou Mi Tzu), Karien Scheepers (Mevrou Yang), Iza Trengove (Ou Vrou), Diane Vlotman (Niggie/Jong Prostituut), Antoinette Wilkinson (Skoonsuster), Jan le Roux (Oupa), Christo Compion (Lin To), Louié Loots (Seuntjie), Solly Oosthuizen (various), Kenny Beck (Polisieman), Ronnie Belcher (Vlieënier), Wouter Struwig (various), André Swart (various) and Emily Aucamp (Lin To se Seuntjie). Musicians: Limpie Basson (piano), Jannie Hofmeyr (flute), Graham Jacobs (bass guitar) and Vernon Swart (drums). Décor designed by Marjorie van Heerden and built by Emile Aucamp and team, costumes by Elaine Aucamp, lighting by Emile Aucamp and makeup by Pieter Bredenkamp.

1996: See The Good Woman of Sharkville.

2004: Drama and Performance Studies Department (UKZN) production of The Good Person of Setzuan, directed by Tamar Meskin, designed by Mervyn McMurtry, translated by Eric Bentley, featuring Libby Allen and Lenin Shabalala, staged at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre (Durban) in September.


UTS theatre programme, September 1976.

Inskip, 1977. p 128.

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988

NELM catalogue.

Theatre programme (2004 production) held by NELM: [Collection: KORT, Maurice]: 2012. 379. 33. 27.

Curriculum Vitae of Johann van Heerden (2011).

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page