‘Timely, Urgent Story’ Takes Stage at Bruns Amphitheater this Month

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(California Shakespeare Theatre)
Bertolt Brecht comes to Cal Shakes for the first time with The Good Person of Szechwan, helmed by Artistic Director Eric Ting.

    California Shakespeare Theater’s Artistic Director Eric Ting directs Tony Kushner’s much anticipated adaptation of The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht, the company’s first production of this playwright’s work running at the Bruns Amphitheater July 3-21.
    Ting explores the nature of goodness in this comic political masterpiece translated by Wendy Arons. According to Ting, the play is a fable for modern times exploring the lengths to which one must go to keep clean in a dirty world.
    The play asks in a city defined by “haves” and “have-nots,” can a good person stay good even as their fortunes rise? And what does it even mean to be good? 
    “Without question, it’s a timely story, an urgent story that feels very much a conversation of where we are politically, socially, environmentally,” says Ting. “The question it asks is (in sometimes ridiculous ways) — can one person really make a difference? And what are the consequences of those actions?”
    Ting praises Kushner, who is best known for his work Angels in America (a play in two parts: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika). The writer has also penned A Bright Room Called Day, Homebody/Kabul and the book for the musical Caroline, or Change.
    Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, an Olivier Award, two Oscar nominations, an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a PEN/Laura Pels Award.
     “In Kushner’s extraordinary hands, Brecht’s exploration of human decency becomes something delightful, something contemporary, something deeply searching and deeply human,” says Ting.
    Critically-acclaimed Bay Area composer Min Kahng makes his Cal Shakes debut with original music for the play.  Kahng draws his inspiration from a wide variety of sources including hip hop and Peking Opera. 
    Making her Cal Shakes debut is Bay Area native Francesca Fernandez McKenzie, who leads the cast. Joining Mckenzie are Bay Area and Cal Shakes veterans including Lance Gardner, Margo Hall, Victor Talmadge, Anthony Fusco and Dean Linnard.
    New to the Bruns Amphitheater are a number Bay Area locals and regional theater veterans including Armando McClain, Lily Tung Crystal, J Jha, Phil Wong, Monica Lin and Sharon Shao. 
    All shows are at the Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda. Single tickets for The Good Person of Szechwan are $20 to $94 with discounts available for seniors, youth, students, full time K-12 educators, military families, persons age 30 and under, and groups. For information or to charge tickets by phone, call the Cal Shakes Box Office at 510-548-9666. Additional information and online ticketing is available at www.calshakes.org.

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