Brecht’s Good Person

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After a very long day walking the streets of Amsterdam, I was due to meet friends at the Amsterdam Forest. I’ve seen it on maps and repeatedly ridden around it but never into it, during my over four years here. In my mind’s eye I never imagined it to be anything beyond a few scattered trees, a pond, and many bike paths. So I left very little time for getting through the forest this evening.

Was I ever wrong. Or at least, upon arrival at the forest entrance this evening, as I rode and rode, the streetlights eventually stopped, and it was just me, my dim bikelights, and the moon. Riding riding riding along a path I could barely see, so I turned off the mp3 player to hear the sounds of the tires on the ground, to determine if I was on grass, gravel, or somehow biking into the lake that seemed neverending and always just a step to my right. Allegedly I was riding to a theater, an open air theater, to see a Brecht play. But throughout the ride, as the darkness got thicker and the way back got further and further, I started to doubt I’d see any play on this night, or that there was even a theater. For a brief instance the world was flat again, and I forsaw myself falling off the edge.

But as luck, or a keen sense of direction, would have it… I eventually found the sillouettes of rows and rows of parked cars. I did my best not to ride into them, and when the rows finally ended, there began racks and racks of bikes. Hundreds of bikes, many scattered beyond my field of view, and up ahead, christmas lights strung up in the trees. I could hear what sounded like singing, or shouting, probably both… I had stumbled upon the theater.

The Good Person of Sezuan was the name of the play. And although I was tired and after the long strange ride, felt like I was stoned, the play put me into a tranz. Though the jokes in Dutch are almost always lost on me, feelings of sadness, happiness, and other character struggles came across very clearly. Lucky for me they didn’t try giving their Dutch a Chinese accent… most of them didn’t anyway.

Brecht is interesting as was this play. I understood the question, about being a good person and being taken advantage of, versus being a bad person and getting ahead in life, especially in the professional realm. I know Brecht was a Marxist, and it’s something I love to see in his plays (the few Ive seen).. in this case I saw his commentary about what capitalism forces people into and how desperate it can make people. There was also a sexual undertone, which was illustrated by the main character creating an alter ego which was a mean businessminded man who was very successful, in order to sustain her real self who was a good natured selfless girl who everyone loved and loved to take advantage of.

I was reading about how Brecht went into self imposed exile to the US. Which sounded impressive, until I read that he later faced the McArthy hearings as an accused communist and all that witchhunt. An irony which in itself sound like one of his plays.

After that, I had the long ride through the forest in the dark to ponder this post and the frisbee tournament I must play in 8 hours at the Hague.