Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Director: A Natural Time

HSU Associate Professor of theatre and film John Heckel believes the time is right for a rare production of Mother Courage and Her Children.

“It’s a natural time to do it,” Heckel said. “The issues in ‘Mother Courage’ are prolific on the evening news and in the newspapers.”

He defines the core question as: “How do you remain soulful, how do you retain a sense of nurturance, within a society of so much greed?”

Heckel believes students especially will find this play relevant. “They’re facing this profound question, how do I go out in the world to make a living, and still retain a sense of my own being?”

Others also face this dilemma as well. Heckel, who is also beginning a new career as a practicing psychologist with an internship at Catholic Charities in Eureka, says he hears echoes of these issues from patients suffering from depression and anxiety.

But there are no easy answers, as Brecht depicts one painful paradox after another that Mother Courage must face, with her fate and the fate of her children in the balance. “In the play, the overall examination of these problems are much more three-dimensional than in the usual political debate of one side against another side,” Heckel said.

But though the problems are searingly human, the ways Mother Courage and others in the play cope with them often work against the change that could lead to solutions. “In this world that Brecht constructs, we see multiple levels of people all trying to find their way through this world and make sense of it, and survive in it,” Heckel said. “But in how they do that, Brecht recognizes, they play a role in keeping the system in place.”


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