Gellért Endre: The Good Person of Szechwan, 1957.

Context of the Performance in Theatrical Culture

This is the first performance of the play in Hungary, the first Brecht-premier in the history of State Socialist Hungary and the Nemzeti Színház, and a single year after the author’s death, it’s not yet limited by the obligation to imitate model performances. The theatrical profession mostly focuses on the fact of the premier. It...

Dramatic text, Dramaturgy

The Nemes Nagy Ágnes translation derives its importance from the fact that Gellért Endre doesn’t direct the play with the title ‘The Good Soul of Szechwan’. This means that the salvation of the world does not rely on a ‘good soul’ who definitely exists and can be found, but on a ‘good person’ who might...

Direction

The play asks whether it is possible to fix the world, and the imperative of the epilogue, ‘dear audience, find the key yourself’ is not a reassurance that the performance was an educational fable, but tasks the reader/viewer with answering the question. This made it a canonical example of Brecht’s theory, the epitome of epic...

Acting

In a Brecht performance built on the acting traditions of historical and psychological realism, the greatest challenge is the fact that The Good Person of Szechwan is ‘not a play that relies on character. The heroes sometimes say such strange things and act in such unnatural ways, that the actors don’t get an opportunity to...

Sight and Sound

The director Gellért Endre, who has taken an educational trip to Beijing in 1956, was praised unilaterally because (unlike the Rostock performance), he kept the Chinese setting, and gave the task of designing the ‘often picturesque set’ to the graphic artist and caricaturist Toncz Tibor, who had also spent a longer period of time in...

Impact and Posterity

When it comes to the number of performances, The Good Person of Szechwan was one of the least successful works of Gellért Endre, or the entire Nemzeti Színház, since the Brecht premier in April was only played a few more times in the Autumn. Its reception is unintentionally defined by the fact that Major Tamás’s...