Magnet Theatre is presenting the graduation production of the sixth cohort Fulltime Training and Job Creation Programme.
MAGNET THEATRE’S SKILLS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
Magnet Theatre’s two-year Fulltime Training and Job Creation Programme is a skills development initiative that aims to help youth bridge the gap between tertiary education and employment in the creative economy.
Earlier this year, Magnet Theatre’s Early Years Programme was awarded the Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Innovation in Theatre. Magnet Theatre production Snapped was also nominated for awards in five categories.
Current Magnet Theatre trainees Wendy Mrali and Siphenathi Siqwayi received Fleur du Cap award nominations for their works presented at the Zabalaza Festival with Siphenathi winning Best New Director.
‘THE GOOD SOUL OF SZECHUAN’ HEADS TO MAGNET THEATRE
The Good Soul of Szechuan by Bertolt Brecht, translated by David Harrower, will be presented at Magnet Theatre.
“I chose the play because it resonated a lot with the current conditions in South Africa – the wealth gap, major inequalities between rich and poor, the conditions of poverty that many people live under etc. The play is fundamentally a critique of a capitalist system that puts the acquisition of money and the exploitation of human and other resources in pursuit of profit above all else, and calls into question what determines moral choices and value systems,” says Mark Fleishman, artistic director and cofounder of Magnet Theatre
This classic play is a theatrical parable that questions the possibility of moral goodness amidst the poverty, inequality, and exploitation inherent under capitalism. Directors Mark Fleishman and Qondiswa James work in a dynamic collaboration with Neo Muyanga and Magnet Theatre’s graduating class of 2022.
THE NARRITIVE OF THE PLAY
The narrative of The Good Soul of Szechuan follows three gods who travel to earth to determine whether there are any ‘good’ people left. They arrive in the town of Szechuan and meet Shen Te, a local sex worker, whose goodness supersedes her lifestyle. She is rewarded with some capital and buys herself a small tobacco shop. Very quickly, however, the community begins to take advantage of her kindness until the shop is in danger of closing.
To save her shop while still maintaining her reputation as the charitable Shen Te, she invents a ruthless alter ego, her male cousin Shui Ta, to protect her business interests. Ultimately, Shen Te’s altruism comes into conflict with Shui Ta’s pragmatic ruthlessness.
In keeping with Brecht’s theory of alienation, the play incorporates movement, choral work and song. The text is set in China but was originally aimed at critiquing the economic circumstances in Germany in the 1930s/40s that ultimately led to the rise of Nazism and the Second World War. It remains, however, a cutting critique of capitalist society’s definition of contemporary morality and altruism in social and economic terms and is deeply relevant to the circumstances in which we find ourselves in South Africa today.
Through this play, Brecht suggests that pure goodness cannot thrive in a society that favours rampant self-interest, cut-throat competition and deceit – that in fact, economic systems are what determine a society’s morality.
Shen Te’s struggle to be good in the face of economic and personal hardship is no less meaningful today than when the play was first performed in 1944.
WHEN TO CATCH THE SHOW
The Good Soul of Szechuan will be performed from 16 to 24 June at 19:00. There will be a matinee on 18 June and the Graduation performance on 25 June at Magnet Theatre – Corner of Lower Main and St Michael’s Roads in Observatory.
Tickets are R100 for general admission with concessions for scholars, students, pensioners and block bookings at R50. Bookings can be made here.