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Mother Courage and her children travel far and wide across Europe, following the troops of the Thirty Years War so that she can do business with the war. She travels in order to survive this, the longest of all religious wars, in order to beat it but, in the end, she still loses almost everything. Time and time again, the supposed war profiteer loses everything, despite her almost monstrous resilience to the laws of the marketplace, – she even loses her children.
Her sons Eilif and Swiss Cheese and her daughter Kattrin, who is dumb, all die in this great sea of death. Eilif, who signed up for the army, is executed during a ceasefire because he attacked a peasant family – a crime he was rewarded for during war time. A ransom must be paid for Swiss Cheese, who is languishing in prison and Courage haggles over the price until he is finally shot. Mute Kattrin dies in her attempt to warn a city that it is about to be stormed, by banging on the drums.
The 1938/39 play, which Brecht wrote while on exile in Sweden, premiered in Zurich in 1942 and shows the war as a continuation of business by other means. And at the same time it shows that the calculation doesn’t work for anyone, because the war ‘is fatal for human virtues, even for those who possess them’.
This is director Philipp Becker’s debut at Thalia. He recently worked at the NTGent in Belgium and staged ‘William Tell’ in the Swiss town of Altdorf. He brings Brecht’s ‘Mother Courage’ and the music of Dessau to the stage with musician Johannes Hofmann, who previously acted as musical director on ‘The Threepenny Opera’.
Premiere 28th January 2016, Thalia Theater