Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bernadette Cheyne as Mother Courage. Posted by Picasa

Last Dance

On a very windy Saturday night, Mother Courage and Her Children was performed for the last time. It started a little late due to the overflow crowd--some 20 people had to be turned away. Every one of the six shows was sold out.

Congratulations to the cast, musicians, crew and staff, and everyone who worked hard to overcome the difficulties of a complex production, and to create a memorable night of theatre.

All of the lyrics that Lila Nelson set to music were Brecht's (as translated into English by British playwright David Hare), except for the song that closed each night's performance, sung by Lila and the assembled cast. This was Lila's original song, expressing the feelings of the cast and the production as their response to the play. Here are the lyrics to that song (courtesy of Lila Nelson):

Let Us Be Done

Big guns only speak one tongue
"The devil's among us, the old and the young"
Religion waits at the end of a spear
And satiates a God-loving fear

One day
One day we'll be done
Let us
Let us be done

Here's a story we keep tellin'
You keep buyin'; we keep sellin'
At the end there's an empty shell
Nothing to buy; nothing to buy and nothing to sell.

Let us
Let us
Let us
Help us
Help us

That's us
Let's go
We're all...that's...left...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

“The plays of so socially conscious a playwright as Brecht, who was dedicated to the task of showing his fellow human beings that the world must be changed through social action, also contain powerful poetic metaphors of human emotion. Mother Courage pulling her cart, Grusche in the Caucasian Chalk Circle crossing the swaying bridge over the ravine to save the child…these are poetic images of human resilence, tenderness and sensuality...”

Martin Esslin
An Anatomy of Drama

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mother Courage at HSU Production Reviewed

from Eureka Times Standard review by Betti Trauth:

If you've never experienced a play written by controversial German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, avail yourself of the current, stunningly staged HSU production of one of his most famous: “Mother Courage and Her Children.”

Never one to shy away from a theatrical challenge, HSU's always adventurous director John Heckel took it on. What's more, his cast and crew have come amazingly close to nailing the essence of a genre unique to Brecht.

The complete review is here.

"MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN is coming to be accepted universally as one of the important plays of the last half century.”

Eric Bentley

Bernadette Cheyne Posted by Picasa

Bernadette Cheyne on Playing Mother Courage

Is Mother Courage courageous?

After playing the role for three performances at HSU, Bernadette Cheyne answered:

" I think there are aspects of courage in the character, but there are so many contradictions. She's a fascinating character in that way. One of the things I've really worked for in this role is to embrace her contradictions."

Instead of imposing a single idea, Bernadette decided to play each scene with total commitment to the character of Mother Courage in that specific scene, according to what she says and does, as the character improvises her strategies for survival.

"I want to play her as she is in that scene completely, and let the audience decide how they feel about her. Maybe they'll like her at one point and really hate her at another. Sympathize with her in one scene, and then think she's a complete scumball in another. If that happens, I'll have really done what I intended."

As for the first weekend's performances, Bernadette found that playing the role takes all her energy (she is onstage for every scene) but that at the end she feels "relaxed" rather than completely exhausted.

Playing to capacity houses, she particularly noticed that audiences were getting the humor. "I think that has something to do with the David Hare translation we're using. He brings it out. It's great to hear people laughing at the irony of those lines."

Describing Bernadette Cheyne's "powerhouse performance." Betti Trauth writes in the Eureka Times Standard: "As Courage, Cheyne has both the polished, professional range and artistic depth to handle the portrayal of a woman who is not meant to be a sympathetic character."

MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN resumes tonight---Thursday, March 2--at Gist Hall Theatre on the HSU campus. It will conclude its run on Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

THE COOK: Oh yes, you’re right, no question. I mean, on the surface it may look like an ordinary war, there’s all the usual features, looting and killing and plundering and so on. You even come across an occasional rape. But don’t let that fool you: it’s a religious war.

From Mother Courage and Her Children

Jabari Morgan at rehearsal. photo by Delayne. Posted by Picasa