By Julie Griffin
New York City: the delacorte theater (central park) 2006
5 Acts About Art, Politics, Theater and Children ~ Streep wanted to do this play, ”Because of the lullaby was this scene that we see over and over, on television, everywhere, everywhere.” She looks up to the heavens. “Women just going, why? Over the body of their children. Why? That’s the whole thing. That’s what it was for me. In that moment, she’s only mother. Why did God? Why did this king? The emperor. The pope. Why? What’s the end result? Bones and landscape?” The documentary about the making of the play, Mother Courage And Her Children, filmed with a black and white medium, represents foremost the sadness of children taken from mother’s arms, children who no longer remember the name of the parent gassed in a concentration camp, and children who die in mother’s arms due to war. “An die nachgeborenen” (for those not yet born). “You will rise up out of the flood which we have gone under. Think too when you speak of our weaknesses, the dark times from which you have escaped. We went changing our country more often than our shoes, in a war of the classes, puzzled when there was injustice only and no outcry."
Act 1: Theater “I’m the voice of dead people. I’m the interpreter of lost songs.” Meryl Streep plays a mother who fights for her children at the same time she fights for her own survival and for her very life during the thirty years war. The timely 2006 play, rehearsed at the Newman Theater, the original 1949 year of the debut’ of the Brecht play in the city of Berlin, strangely, following the playbook of Brecht with near perfect imitation, made no dissimilar contrast. The current director of the New York play, only done about eight years ago had feelings about the production which ran deep. “The war in Iraq. It’s become like the Vietnam war. It feels like the theater is forced to try to respond to that." Who gets mowed under in these wars of ideology concerns Streep. The Director, Tony Kushner, also known for his work on Nights In Rodanthe with Richard Gere, a story of two soul mates who fall in love, and then part forever after a brief romance ~ Related most to this play due to the fact that he is Jewish. The relationship most Jews had with Germany, contrasted with that of the German author of Mother Courage And Her Children, who married to film star, Helene Weigel Brecht, a Jewish woman, the two fled from Hitler to Denmark and to Sweden later. The director, also Jewish felt those ties all that much more. He became interested in the play after taking a class in Twentieth Century Drama, after college in Louisiana. The first year, he read Marx, Chapter 10, Volume I of Capitol, he also read the play by Brecht, Mother Courage And Her Children, a story of the thirty years war. The director spoke about the earlier playbook of Brecht as, “It’s not magic but work.” Minutes later, Streep described her brand of acting as eliminating what she indicates as the style of what goes on with preparation, or in short, she considers,“Process is like bad acting.” Streep, with a pages long resume' of listed acting accomplishments, and with a name like Meryl, an Irish female name, has made her preparations well.
Act 2: War Kushner, who wrote, Angels In America, which also starred Meryl Streep, translated Bertolt Brecht’s WWII. Written Mother Courage And Her Children play, after relating to the actress his desire to sometime do an enactment of the play. Kushner states during the documentary that the writer shared his opinion of the kind of Marxism once embraced. Political art and the Czech Republic play a deep role regarding the meaning behind the reason for the writing of the original war play. And even Streep laments the thousands of lives lost through wars fought over the interpretation of the bible.The documentary enjoins the war of the play, the war of Vietnam, and the war of Iraq in addition to the six different wars the U.S. had fought by WW II. A village she travels to outside of Prague, Мельник (Melnick), during this act of the documentary, she calls a flat place which leads to a city you see over the plain, a church at the top of the hill, and a place, a bethel piled up with rows and rows of skulls atop skulls there, and a strange interpretation of the bible. Meryl Streep considers her character as you and me. "We all live off the war," This is only part of why Streep fit the role of the mother of Mother Courage And Her Children perfectly.
Act 3: Children Mother Courage fights to earn a living for herself and for her children. “So, it’s just about money. They’re not wolves. They’re just men after money. Yeah, corruption is the human equivalent of God’s mercy. As long as somebody’s on the take, you can buy a lighter sentence. And even the innocent have a shot at justice.” Another young boy about to lose his life for nothing, “You have something to tell him if he listens.” She advises him to just go ahead and be humble. After all, she has already learned the lesson that the world strips one of all candescence. She sings, “Push comes to shove, and soon you’ll fall down from that grandstand. It’s all downhill. It’s God’s will. Better let it be.” She tells him, she took all, or in short ate crow, and later laments on her appreciation of the rare good that came her way. But, eventually she wins as victor of the spoils. And besides, it is war time. And war is all about death for everyone. Despite her courageous efforts, she loses her son and later her daughter who shot and killed after she made the last brave act of beating on the drums to warn the city of war of the final destruction ~ She totes her ware within the walls of a wagon on the hot stage of the New York Park. Onlookers observe a woman who Brecht likely foresaw years hence while writing the script, and had in mind for such a time as this. As a sound of the helicopter whir fades out, "I'm not courageous. Only the poor have courage. Why? Cuz they're hopeless. Just to get up every morning. To plow a potato field in war time, or to bring kids with no prospects into the world. To live poor. That takes courage." She sips some gentle whiskey. "No. They trudge along uncomplainingly, carrying the emperor and his heavy throne, and the pope and his stone cathedral. They stagger, starving bearing the whole thundering weight of the great weight of the wealthy on their broad, stupid backs. Is that courage? Must be. But it's perverted courage. Cuz what they carry on their backs will cost them their lives."