Review: WKU’s unique production of anti-war play adds to message

Jessica Kiehnau

“Mother Courage and Her Children”, a play with an anti-war message performed by WKU students, opened on Thursday, Nov. 2 and will play until Tuesday, Nov. 7.

“Mother Courage and Her Children”, written in 1939 by Bertolt Brecht, tells the story of Anna Fierling (Mother Courage) and her three children Eilif, Swiss Cheese and Kattrin, as they struggle to sell much needed materials from their wagon during the Thirty Years War.

“Not only is it an anti-war play, but it’s also about the relation of socioeconomic greed and women empowerment,” Colby Clark, a junior from Bowling Green said.

Emily Lawrence, senior from Versailles, KY, and assistant director of the play, commented about the challenges of performing Brecht style theatre.

“Brecht’s ideas are interesting,” she said, “It’s hard to try to entertain the audience while trying to stay true to Brecht. However, I enjoy it! It’s good experience.”

Instead of using a translation of the play, which was originally written in German, the director Scott Stroot took various English translations and combined them, adding a personal flare.

One of the unique aspects he added is the progression of time during the play. Instead of remaining in the 1600s, the play moves throughout the years, eventually ending in present day.

This is seen through minor costume changes. Also, if the audience listens carefully, the “war sounds” played in the background, such as cannons and guns, change from cannon fire to bomb sirens.

The start of the play begins in 1629 and by intermission, the audience will notice props reminiscent of World War II. By the end, the audience will see modern uniforms and machine guns.

While the set and small technical Easter eggs were a wonderful addition that adds to the message of the play, the actors also performed a show that ripped out audience’s heartstrings. However, with any great performance from the actors, there are always the difficulties with pulling off the characters.

“The most challenging part for me was to remain emotionally charged during the entire performance,” Clark, who plays Eilif, said. “My character is only in a few scenes, so to wait and chill and then jump right back into the action is a bit of a challenge.”

Louisville junior Jada Jefferson, who also plays Mother Courage, said her character was a struggle.

“I don’t agree with most the of the things she does. However, I realize where she comes from to make these decisions. She’s such a strong and interesting character,” she said.

“Definitely come see it! The play has a really great message – one that still applies today and how violence affects it,” Shyama Iyer, a sophomore from Louisville who also plays Kattrin, said.

It is performed in Russel H. Miller Theater in FAC, starting at 8:00 p.m. However, the Sunday show will be at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and senior citizens.

Reporter Jessica Kiehnau can be reached on Twitter @JessKeyno.