Thursday, March 02, 2006

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.


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