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UWRF University Theatre to perform ‘Setzuan’

February 28, 2008

Evil, selfishness and greed collide on stage with morality and humor thanks to the UW-River Falls University Theatre’s presentation of “The Good Person of Setzuan.”

The show opened Feb. 28 and will run periodically through early March, with showings Feb. 29, March 1 and March 7-9. All performances, with the exception of the March 9 matinee show at 2:30 p.m., take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Davis Theater of the Kleinpell Fine Arts Building (KFA).

Originally written by German playwright Bertolt Brecht, and later adapted by Tony Kuschner, “The Good Person of Setzuan” provides an easy-to-follow story with a significant meaning, guest director Zach Curtis said.

“It’s a really simple story that’s really good at its heart,” Curtis said. “[The story] has a lot of resonance.”

The story begins as three gods set out in search of one kind person in the fictional Chinese province of Setzuan. In their search for shelter, they come across a kind woman who is the only person that will take them in. The action follows as the good woman of Setzuan strives to survive while maintaining her moral compass in a sinful setting.

While the story may appear to have a somber connotation, the play is actually set up to make the audience laugh, stage manger Al Broeffle said.

“The story brings forth many different styles of comedy,” Broeffle said.

Although the story is nearly 70 years old, audiences can still expect to be entertained by the play’s comedic aspects.

“It’s a big show that has a lot of fun performances in it,” Curtis said. “It’s something that makes you laugh 70 years later.”

One of the “fun” performances is played by UWRF sophomore Beth Van Kampen, who portrays both female and male characters.

Van Kampen plays Shen Te, the woman struggling to lead a moral life in a world filled with evil. Shen Te’s kindness eventually turns into her biggest weakness, which causes her to invent Shui Ta, a ruthless male alter ego, also played by Van Kampen.

Playing male characters is nothing new to Van Kampen, but the challenge of playing both a male and a female in the same play is new.

“I’ve played male roles before,” Van Kampen said. “But it’s hard to go back and forth between the two mentalities.”

Although the story has been tweaked as some of the original monologues have been shortened, the play runs three hours long. Still, the audience can expect to be engaged from the first scene until the curtains close.

“It’s not the typical play that you see,” Van Kampen said. “It has a lot of twists and turns.”

Tickets for “The Good Person of Setzuan” are available at the University box office located in KFA, which is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and one hour prior to each performance. Tickets are $4 for students and $7 for adults.