Devised Theater Workshop:
Reimagining THE GOOD WOMAN OF SETZUAN with Tectonic Theater's Moment Work

The 2019 Felicia Montealegre Bernstein Masterclass
An Uta Hagen Centennial Workshop

Presented by Pablo Andrade and Grant James Varjas.

This workshop explores the collaborative process of devised theater. For all artists — actors, directors, playwrights and designers — who seek new ways of creating work and reimagining existing texts.

Through an introduction to Moment Work, Tectonic Theater’s groundbreaking devising method, you will collaboratively stage a reimagining of Bertolt Brecht’s THE GOOD WOMAN OF SETZUAN for in-class exploration.

Moment Work, pioneered by Moisés Kaufman, explores the theatrical potential of all the elements of the stage (props, sound, architecture, lights, costume, etc;) in order to create strong theatrical and dramatic narratives.

Used to created seminal works like THE LARAMIE PROJECT, Moment Work encourages playwrights, directors, actors, and designers to collaborate on an investigation of the full narrative of the stage.


The gods come down to the earth for a visit. They look around for a place to spend the night and ask a poor water-seller for some help. None of the innkeepers or property owners will take them in–these traveling outsiders. Finally the water-seller asks his friend, Shen Teh, a sex worker. She shrugs her shoulders and says yes, “I’ll take them in.”

The gods reward this woman–the one good person they find–richly, and her days as a sex worker are over. But now that she has means, everyone wants something from her and soon she is overwhelmed. So she develops a second persona, a man’s persona, which she uses to say “no.” Sometimes she appears as a woman, sometimes as a man…

In this workshop, we will explore the ways in which this story has new and different resonances in our time, reimagining and reexamining the text and its staging through 21st Century lenses of race, gender, culture, and more.

Offered as part of the Centennial Celebration of Uta Hagen, who starred as Shen Te in the premiere of Eric Bentley’s adaptation of THE GOOD WOMAN OF SETZUAN in 1956. Uta Hagen and Bertholt Brecht were both targets of the House of Un-American Activities Committee and the Hollywood blacklist of the 1940s and 50s. Eric Bentley devoted a significant portion of his career as a writer and theater critic to the subject of Brecht and the blacklist, producing a recording of Brecht’s testimony to the HUAC and writing a play and works of criticism on the subject.

Please Bring to Each Session:

  • Light sources (NO live flames, but flashlights, finger lights, pointer lights, cell phone lights, holiday lights, etc.)
  • An interesting prop item
  • A costume piece/piece of clothing
  • Items that make sound (books of matches that rattle, wind up toys, sticks to hit together, high heels that click on the floor, etc.)
  • Two lines of text, one dramatic and one non-dramatic (prose, a fortune cookie, an instruction manual, a newspaper article, etc.
Note: The props and costumes will be available for use by all participants in the Labs; therefore, participants should not bring anything that is fragile or has any significant monetary or emotional value. While the Tectonic Teaching Artist will ask everyone to respect the items, we would hate for an accident to happen.

Required Reading: THE GOOD WOMAN OF SETZUAN by Bertolt Brecht (Eric Bentley, Trans.)

Made possible with the generous support of the Bernstein Family Foundation Inc.