Mother Courage: A Political Theater Revival

A talented DC-based actress and friend of mine named Farah Lawal invited me and some friends to come see her play last Wednesday. I had never been exposed to the world of Bertolt Brecht or Epic Theater before, and had no idea what to expect. When we entered the theater, the actors were already interacting with us, yelling at us to join “their army” by filling out a ludicrous form and passing out free PBR beers and the accompanying holder that read “Liquid Courage.”

Taken from Wikipedia:

Mother Courage as Epic Theatre

Mother Courage is an example of Brecht’s concepts of Epic Theatre and Verfremdungseffekt or “estrangement effect”. Verfremdungseffekt is achieved through the use of placards which reveal the events of each scene, juxtaposition, actors changing characters and costume on stage, the use of narration, simple props and scenery. For instance, a single tree would be used to convey a whole forest, and the stage is usually flooded with bright white light whether it’s a winter’s night or a summer’s day. Several songs, interspersed throughout the play, are used to underscore the themes of the play, while making the audience think about what the playwright is saying.”

The costumes were wild, fuck was used a lot, everyone was frantic, and the actors would talk to us a lot. We were drunk half way through the show, invited to get up and dance to the goofy live folk band at various times, invited to give the “captain” a review of our “complaints” and considered members of the ship at various points throughout the play. It was a lot of fun. A personal highlight was solving a calculus problem that involved rotating a 4th-degree equation around the x-axis over a certain period of time that corresponded to the amount of time a babysitter had left a baby sitting alone in a room. I solved the problem in terms of t squared since no real numbers had been specified and I actually got the problem right. Felt good.

I encourage DC art fans to get out to the Capital Hill Arts Workshop in Eastern Market, have an early dinner in one of the cute restaurants in the area and check out this play between now and June 26th.

One thought on “Mother Courage: A Political Theater Revival

  1. Kiran,

    I apologize for being so late in thanking you for coming to the show and writing about it! It was great to see you and I’m glad that you and your friends had such a good time. I am really enjoying reading your blog!

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