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JU Drama and Dramatics students to stage 'Mother Courage' at Shilpakala

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Mother Courage and Her Children, a play written by German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht, in the context of 'Thirty Years' War', which is one of the longest and most destructive wars in European history, took place in Central Europe from 1618 to 1648, causing the death of around 4.5 to 8 million battlers and civilians, while more than 50 per cent of the population decreased in the area that is now modern Germany, will be performed on March 3rd and 4th at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. 

With the participation of the Department of Drama and Dramatics students of Jahangirnagar University, the play will be staged at Shilpakala Academy's Experimental Theater Hall at Segunbagicha in the capital on Friday and Saturday at 7 pm. Reza Arif, Associate Professor of the Department, serves as the play's director.

The play reflects how the people of Europe are at war with each other, divided into two religions - Catholics and Protestants. Almost half of Germany's population was wiped out in the war, which lasted nearly thirty years. And the survivors faced various horrors like plague epidemic, famine, etc.

Amidst this war, a woman named 'Anna Fierling' roams the battlefield with a mobile canteen and loses her three children, Eilif, Schweizerkas (Swiss Cheese) and Kattrin (Catherine), her mute daughter. 

The play showcases the intelligence, prudence, bravery, compassion and patience of Anna Fierling, also known as Mother Courage. Travelling from one end to the other in a mobile food cart during the Crusades in Europe, Mother Courage never gave up in the battle of life. 

A brave woman's life in a destructive battle and the unyielding look of sacrifices during the war inspire the audience.

According to the cast and crew of the play, Brecht is perhaps the most influential playwright and theorist of the 20th century. Mother Courage has a broader context than Brecht's other plays. It is not only a masterpiece of Brechtian 'epic theatre' but also epic in its style.

Director of the play, Associate Professor Reza Arif, said, "In the 21st century, we see the Russia-Ukraine war, Pakistan going bankrupt, children dying in Afghanistan-Turkey due to war. It has become a constant fact of the world." 

"The history of this world is the history of war. War among the people, war of religions, war over borders, and war between nations. No one may ever record the names, identities and addresses of so many deads from of war. However, we have chosen to stage the play as a medium with the intention of saying something through this form of art."

He added, "It's an academic production. We try to keep the Brechtian style of epic-theatre throughout the play. All the cast and crews are students of 3rd year who are not mature enough to perform in a gigantic stage in front of numerous number of spectators. But, they are trying their level best to achieve flawlessness in every aspects which made us more anticipating."

'Mother Courage' is often considered the quintessential anti-war play. Brecht used the character of Mother Courage to highlight the devastating effects of war on ordinary people, showing how individuals are forced to compromise their values and morals to survive. 

Its exploration of the human cost of war has cemented its place as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century.

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