Bertolt Brecht’s “The Good Woman of Setzuan” at ACT Theatre


Directed by Kenan Directing Fellow Ahna Demaro, Bertolt Brecht’s timely parable “The Good Woman of Setzuan” opened at ACT Theatre last Friday.

The play tells the story of three gods in search of lodgings who are taken in by Shen Te, a poor girl who sells herself to make ends meet. In exchange, the gods give her favor, fortune, and the title of “a good person”. Shen Te desperately tries to live up to her new status, but her neighbors see only opportunity in her kindness, forcing Shen Te to create a male alter ego, Shui Ta, to protect herself from being torn in two by the selfish nature of her world. Through The Good Woman of Setzuan, Brecht seeks to expose the contradictions within our society, and asks the question: Is this the world we want to leave our children?

Demaro says, “I love this show because at its heart, it’s about our innate human urge to be kind and how we push others to do the same. The struggle is how to continue living in a way that society prizes so little. As the script reads, ‘[F]or no one can be good for long if goodness is not in demand.’ All of the characters in our play are tackling this problem and none of them fit into the simple binary of good or evil, despite how easy it is to see them that way. Each of them breaks down the tidy labels we give to both ourselves and others, so that in the end each character is a complicated, beautiful mess of needs and desires. All of them utterly, painfully, and hilariously human.”

Ahna Demaro is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with training in filmmaking, acting, and directing. She is the second of two Kenan fellows for ACT’s 2018 season and the first-ever female fellow. The Kenan Fellowship in Directing at ACT is made possible in partnership with and support from the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts as part of the Career Pathways Initiative. Recent graduates of the UNCSA undergraduate and graduate programs from the School of Drama are eligible for the Fellowship. ACT is one of only a few prestigious theatres in the United States to host a Kenan Fellowship.

The Good Woman of Setzuan runs September 21-29, 2018 in the Eulalie Scandiuzzi Space at ACT Theatre, 700 Union Street in downtown Seattle. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at, by phone at 206.292.7676, or at the ACT Ticket Office at 700 Union Street.

About the Kenan Fellowship in Directing at ACT

The Kenan Directing Fellowship at ACT provides practical knowledge and experience to recent graduates of the School of Drama at the University North Carolina School of the Arts who are embarking on a career in regional theatre.

About Ahna Demaro, 2018 Kenan Directing Fellow

Ahna Demaro is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with training in filmmaking, acting, and directing. Past theatre credits include: Lost and Found and A Jungle Book (Peppercorn Theatre); Urinetown, Drood, and The Music Man (Playmaker’s Rep); Henceforward (Deep Dish Theatre); and Living Dead in Denmark (The ArtsCenter). She debuted in the UNCSA School of Film production of Where Mothbloods Bloom. The film made its World Premiere at the Austin Film Festival and most recently appeared at the RiverRun International Film Festival. While in school, she directed Lungs and Doubt, using a black box and a minimalist approach. She discovered that the empty space held no limitations, inviting only the freedom of choice and discovery. In Seattle, she hopes to continue breaking theatre down to the basics so that the heart of her stories can shine through even on the rainiest of days.