Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht

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The fact that Mother Courage and Her Children written by Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1956) was set in Sweden, Poland and Germany and its events happened during the period 1624 to 1636 is endorsement enough of its unconventional character. The three unities of time, place and action, considered to be the touchstone of success of a good drama, is given the go-by Brecht in a daring move to shift the scenes of the play across nations and spanning a decade.


How does Brecht achieve this mastery It is through making good use of what in literary parlance is called open ended or episodic form of playwriting.
Brecht himself declared in his essay The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre that his plays were based on a 'radical separation of the elements of production rather than the unity of action seen in Realism.' He believed that 'realism' was an illusion and seduced the audience to accept subconsciously its representation. Brecht always wanted the audience not to be carried away by the proceedings on stage but to continuously engage itself in 'distancing' so as not to lose the faculty of disinterested perception. In fact, his theatre always showed dramatic illusion in its characterization, setting, action and techniques. The use of screens featuring captions to reveal the forthcoming actions is a typical alienation device. Other devices to shock the audience included changing the scenery in front of the audience, projections, treadmills, hoists and musicians on the stage. The intention of Brecht's theatre practice is thus essentially didactic.
Mother courage tells the story of the owner of a travelling canteen wagon. She makes her living from the troops. ...
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