By Kayla Murphy
"This is a dream-team! Seriously, this has been one of the most wonderful processes I’ve been a part of. The actors have worked with dedication and generosity on this production. I believe that each performer shines in the show, and they all seem to be working at the top of their game" said Jan Mason, theatre professor and director of Mother Courage and Her Children.
From February 28th to March 3rd, the cast and crew of Mother Courage and Her Children performed every night at the Maloney Black Box Theatre at CCSU.
"I proposed Mother Courage for the season because I thought it would be exciting to do a play by Bertolt Brecht, and I feel that Mother Courage is his masterpiece," said Mason, "This is also a play that our students read in Theatre History and Script Analysis classes, so it is exciting to work on a show that students know."
Mother Courage and Her Children is a play set in Europe during the Thirty Years' War. In the wake of the army, Mother Courage, pulls her cart with her three children, Eliff, Kattrin and Swiss Cheese to trade with soldiers and attempt to make a profit from the war. Written by Bertolt Brecht, a German poet, playwright and theatrical reformer, Brecht departed from the normal conventions of theatrical illusion and developed drama as a social and ideological forum.
"Brecht was a playwright, philosopher, and political activist," said Mason, "He believed that theatre could change the world, and he strove to keep his audiences alienated from the action of the play in order to keep them intellectually engaged. He used several techniques to achieve this. One was his use of placards at the beginning of each scene in which he informs the audience about what will happen in the scene before they watch it. The result is that the audience is not watching for “what happens next” but instead, they are watching HOW things happen. This puts them in a more critical state of mind."
A unique factor to the show was that the role of Mother Courage was played by not one, not two, but THREE actors. Kyra Culup, Kendra Garnett and Elisa Sormunen all portrayed Mother Courage in various scenes throughout the play.
Mason explained, "When more than one actor plays a role, or when a role is cast with gender-bending casting, the audience views the character at a bit of a distance, recognizing the separation between actor and role. That was the reasoning behind the triple-casting of Mother Courage. Also, we have some strong women in the department!"
CCSU's production of Mother Courage also included a live-feed camera and some very exciting projections designed by theatre student Ethan Sepa. Another interesting factor in the show was live music composed by CCSU alum Jeff Boratko, who studied music theory and composition. The ensemble of performers sings and play a variety of instruments, including drums, piano, saxophone and violin.
"It has been a dream to work with Composer and Music Director Jeff Boratko on the music for this show," said Mason, "He has created a beautiful, haunting score, and we have had a very open collaboration, which has been very rewarding."
poster design by Ethan Sepa
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