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Our thoughts go out to Puerto Rico during this difficult time.

The Good Woman of Setzuan

From the Charles Ruas archives comes this timeless recording of Bertolt Brecht's Good Woman of Setzuan performed at La MaMa in 1976. The play details the struggles of Shen Te, a woman trying to find balance in her life. After discovering that it is impossible to be both a good and rich person, Shen Te creates her male alter ego, Shui Ta, who subverts her natural goodness in order to make a profit. This parabolic tale ends with Brecht's fundamental question: should we change human nature or the world?

The La MaMa production of Good Woman of Setzuan was directed by Andrei Serban, who is recognized for his direction of Fragments of a Greek Trilogy, an Obie and internationally award-wining play. Currently, he teaches at Columbia University. Music was by Elizabeth Swados, who is best known for her Broadway and International hit Runanways. Originally, this recording aired on February 15, 1976 on WBAI-FM radio in New York City.

Special thanks to the Pacifica Radio Archives who recovered the audio from the original reel-to-reel tapes which was then re-produced for radio broadcast here at ARTonAIR.org.

For those interested in the little historic treasures hidden in these recordings, you will hear the great Ellen Stewart of La Mama welcome the audience, as she did for decades in her theater, with the ringing of her bell.

*The performance runs about two hours, continuously and without intermission. For radio listening convenience we have posted the show in two parts that run contiguously. You also have the option to use the fast forward button to jump to the second hour.


Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas


A unparalleled collection of recovered and restored programs from the seventies produced by Charles Ruas for WBAI-FM, New York's Pacifica station. It features reading, lectures, and performances by such cultural and literary icons as Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Anaïs Nin, William Boroughs, Buckminster Fuller, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Jorge Luis Borges, among numerous others. Ruas is the author of Conversations with American Writers, a Fulbright scholar, and a distinguished French translator. He is also a contributor to ARTNews and Art in America. This series is produced in partnership with Charles Ruas, The Pacifica Radio Archives, The Yale Beinecke Library, The Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Collection, and numerous restorers, archivists and collectors.