Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mother Courage and the Idea of a University Theatre

In choosing the plays he wants to bring to the stage, Mother Courage and Her Children director John Heckel considers the particular role of university theatre. “It seems to me that there are particular kinds of plays and particular kinds of artistic expressions that universities can do, that aren’t going to be done anywhere else.”

University theatre can mount productions of a size and scope that only large regional theatres can accomplish. Because university theatres also have a teaching mission, they can look for plays of high quality that provide as many students as possible with opportunities for participation and creativity.

MOTHER COURAGE was an absolute natural: the size of the cast, the original music, the set design and costume challenges, the entire undertaking,” Heckel said.

“It was a consideration, too, when I did Angels in America [at HSU] I thought, how is anybody in Humboldt County ever going to see Angels in America, both parts? The only place that is going to happen is in a big city or at a major regional theatre, but it’s not going to happen at community theatres.”

University theatres also have more flexibility to respond to timeliness of terms of social (and student) concerns. “The telling of this particular story at this particular time-- if its going to happen, it’s going to happen in university theatres first. It takes more time for theatres in New York or the large regional theatres to gear up, and get the resources and the promotional hype together to make it happen.”

Heckel admits there were also personal considerations. “I have only a couple of years left with the university. I asked myself the selfish question, what can I do that I’m not going to have the chance to do when I leave the university? What haven’t I done that I would really like to do?”

One answer was Mother Courage and Her Children, opening on Thursday, February 23-25, continuing the following weekend, March 2-4, at the Gist Hall Theatre on the Humboldt State University campus in Arcata.


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