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Mother Courage and Her Children

by Bertolt Brecht. Translated by John Willett

Dates 23 - 26 November 2022

 

Summary

A chronicle play of the Thirty Years War, Mother Courage and her Children was written in 1938 and first performed in Zurich in 1941.

Mother Courage follows the armies and her travelling canteen, selling provisions and liquor to the troops. She loses both her sons in the war, and her dumb daughter, Katrin, is shot as she beats a drum to warn the town of Halle of an impending attack.


Our version: Mother Courage and her Children have been seen boarding a boat at Calais last night. Rumour has it she is heading for West Bridgford where she will share her stories: sometimes bawdy, sometimes funny but always overshadowed by perpetual war. If you spot this woman, do not approach, unless you have a Studio ticket. This woman may be armed and is always ready for a fight.


CAST

The Narrator - Dom Gaskell

Mother Courage - Lynn Burges

Katrin - Margarita Papadopoulou

Eilif - Calum Sharp

Swiss Cheese - James Wallace

The General - Adrian Bacon

The old Colonel - Tim Farrow

Yvette - Amanda Pearce

The Cook - Malcolm Todd

The Recruiter - Rob Dixon

The Chaplain - Stephen Herring



CREW

Director - Barbara Seymour

Assistant Director - Roxana Ciurean

Production Manager - Rosie Farrow

Costume - Jo Sharpe and cast

Props - Charlie Willcox and Jan Dizon

Sound Design - Arran Mackay

Set Construction - Ritchie Sharpe

Set Design - creative team including Candice Gush, Ritchie Sharpe

Lighting - creative team

Box Office - Jacky Tivers

Sound operation - Vanessa Banks



Facilities

Free parking

Disabled access (call for information if a wheelchair space is required)

Free hot drinks

Interval drinks (ca £2.50 for glass of wine)

Free downloadable programme and free to pick up on the night

Heated theatre!


Licence

This amateur production of “Mother Courage and Her Children (Willett, trans.)” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. on behalf of Samuel French Ltd. www.concordtheatricals.co.uk


Programme

Download here, or pick up a free copy on the night.

Programme



Mother Courage Programme v2
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.37MB


REVIEW


NANDA Review here



Mother Courage
.pdf
Download PDF • 33KB


Thanks to Kev Castle who came 23rd November 2022


"Mother Courage and Her Children" by Bertolt Brecht. West Bridgford Dramatic Society. The Studio, West Bridgford.

It's been a while since last seeing this story played out on stage, and it's so lovely to see it once more performed on a Nottingham stage. It has a serious message, asks many questions but also has a great deal to smile and laugh about. It's been dubbed one of the most important and influential plays of the 20th Century.

With Brecht though you have to slightly scramble your theatrical brain as an audience member because at times his plays seem disjointed and you have to really use your brain, as well as your imagination to get the full Brecht understanding. This is no exception but once you tune your brain to his wavelength, you then really get the message and start to enjoy the message and the comedy.

"Mother Courage and Her Children", written in 1939, is the anti-war stage-play, with a few additions of music, written by exiled German dramatist Bertolt Brecht. Set in seventeenth-century Europe, the play follows Anna Fierling, known as Mother Courage, a woman who operates a rolling canteen business during the Thirty Years War. Along with her three children, Anna travels across Europe, selling goods from a canteen wagon to locals and alcohol to soldiers. While Anna vows to keep her children safe from the war, in the end, she finds herself poor, childless, and alone. The play takes place over the course of twelve years, depicted in twelve scenes.

Directed by Barbara Seymour, she clearly understands what Brecht was all about and brought out the character in the twenty characters we see on stage. Barbara is assisted in this role by Roxana Ciurean. I love how the characters break that fourth wall by interacting with the audience members, drawing them into the play, as well as getting Mother Courage to hand out sweets to the close audience members. The comedy shows echoes of "Blackadder" in places.

Dom Gaskell is the narrator within the play, dressed resplendent in bow tie and evening suit, moving the narrative of the play along throughout the twelve years.

Mother Courage is a matriarchal powerhouse of a woman and played wonderfully by Lynn Burgess. At times overpowering, especially with her daughter Kattrin, but this is all because she wants to protect her, especially when you discover the back story with her daughter. Fierling was a strong woman, not devoid of emotion, but she was not going to be romantically blackmailed by any man, as we witness in a scene with the Chaplain. Brilliantly acted with passion.

Robert Dixon plays several roles but we first see him as an army recruiter, immediately zoning in on one of Mother Courage's sons, Eilif, bullying and cajoling him until he opts for the army life over following his Mother.

The insulting and disrespectful Sergeant is played by Adrian Bacon, plus doubling up on other roles.

Eilif, the son who enlists into the army is played by Calum Sharp. he also plays other roles throughout, and some nice accents portrayed with these other characters.

James Wallace played the other son, Swiss Cheese; the reason for the name is explained by the way! I love a strong accent and James delivers a cracker of an accent for Cheese. His other roles also give James a chance to highlight his ear for accents also. A lovely cheeky bit of acting as Cheese.

Margarita Papadopoulou for me gave one of the best performances of the play as the dumb Kattrin. Imagine having the overwhelming fear of war to live through and to not be able to express your feelings through speech. The anguish is well depicted by Margarita and you understand every emotion she shows, without uttering a word, only by sounds and facial expressions.

Malcolm Todd plays the Cook, who has an eye for Mother Courage, but doesn't push the emotional side. I always enjoy watching Malcolm as he always looks so confident in whatever role he plays.

Stephen Herring plays the Chaplain, and what a slightly greyish side this man of the cloth has. And whoever said that honesty was the best policy, had forgotten to tell this religious man, because several times he told little white ones, and he broke several of the ten commandments.

I've only recently become a fan of this group's work, mainly because I've only recently started reviewing their productions, but I've become a firm fan of Amanda Pearce and her roles. In this production she plays Yvette, a slightly dubious character, but such a fun script Yvette has, and Amanda's delivery of said script is paced perfectly; I love her tone of voice. Amanda also gets to play other roles as well in "Mother Courage".

And last, but by no means least is Tim Farrow who plays The Colonel as well as other roles.

A brilliantly put together cast, who clearly have enjoyed working on this production and with each other.

A set that requires a bit of imagination investment from the audience, but that does not come as difficult due to the story-telling abilities of this cast, but the props and costumes here are brilliantly constructed, sourced and utilised. And you know that I love those little details and the dining scene has real food and there is real liquid used throughout for drinking purposes. Gold stars all round!

The music used in the production, as well as the music played before the show started, during the interval and as the audience were leaving the auditorium created, and carried through right to the end the feel of the play. These and the sound effects used were all well executed by the Sound Operator Vanessa Banks.

Look out as well for the Ukranian artwork by Sasha Izotova and Olena Kvach.

While this play was written in 1939, there are so many similarities with the Ukraine situation that is ongoing and that in itself shows what an important and forward-looking writer Brecht was, and that is why his plays are still often performed and still has a message to deliver.

"Mother Courage and Her Children" will be at The Studio, West Bridgford until Saturday 26 November, but you may be hard pushed to get a ticket as it's almost sold out.



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