Mother Courage: A compelling tale

 

Mother Courage: A compelling tale

An adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's 'Mother Courage' produced by Theatre Creative Sharjah was performed at the Bharath Murali Theatre Festival in Abu Dhabi

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Published: Mon 29 Feb 2016, 2:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 Feb 2016, 4:18 PM

Bertolt Brecht had seen war in all its infamy; he was an ambulance driver during World War I. From his experience of watching war from all its gut-wrenching atrocities, evolved the play 'Mother Courage and Her Children,' regarded as one of the all-time bests in anti-war literary expression.
Brecht's play received an independent adaptation from a group of theatre enthusiasts in the UAE. Theatre Creative Sharjah - a group of theatre lovers - presented their version of 'Mother Courage' at the Bharath Murali Theatre Festival in Abu Dhabi.
A compelling portrait of war and its impact on humanity, the play by the UAE theatre group was defined by an unparalleled aesthetics, directorial brilliance and professionalism that stayed true to the spirit of Brecht's play.
The team says it was not an easy task to adapt the play given its complexities and subtexts. Sreejith Poyilkavu, who worked on the adaptation, design and direction, had to plough through the content laboriously to create an independent-minded production that stayed true to the original yet brought out contemporary relevance.
The play had several searing moments that highlighted the innate courage and resilience of Mother Courage. Was it also an expression of the human spirit that shines through man-made, large-scale tragedies? You can only watch with a heavy heart as Brecht's character expresses her anguish so nonchalantly through masterful lines such as: "He's now but a child. You want to take him off to slaughterhouse, I know you lot. They'll give you five florins for him," highlighting how war can also spawn an inside business.
And further, after her daughter's death, she soulfully says: "I hope I can pull the wagon by myself. Yes, I'll manage, there's not much in it now. I must get back into business."
Chandra Balan, a coordinator of the play, says it took months of preparation and elaborate rehearsals to perform 'Mother Courage.' "It was the passion of the people involved that helped us to realise our goal of enacting this ambitious play."
Unlike most plays performed by local theatre groups, 'Mother Courage' demanded exemplary standards in light design, costumes and set design. The epic drama also had to be adapted in such a way that its relevance was not lost on the modern audience.
The challenging part was to keep the nonchalant tone of Brecht and not resort to over-dramatising the characters or situations. That called for great control; same when it came to performances. The actors had the enviable task of not being 'loud' as conventional theatre often demands but show remarkable restraint.
Sreejith Poyilkavu adapted a unique approach whereby he refrained from a literal translation to a nuanced narrative. The anguish of Mother Courage, whose two sons are taken, and her only daughter killed, could easily have slipped into melodrama. But Sreejith and the cast showed remarkable restraint, which is not an easy task.
Chandra Balan says the response to the play has been heartening. "More than awards, it is the fact that the play resonated with audiences that delights us. It made our effort worthwhile."
The cast of Mother Courage included: Master Azad, Baby Sreepadma, Baby Amina, Ananda Lakshmi, Dhanya Suresh, Teena Eno, Ashraf Kiraloor, Asharaf Perinjanam, Ajith Kandalloor, Jyothish Balachandran, Salahuddin Kayamkulam, Shaji N Pushpangathan, Praveen Ponnani and Kiran Sadanandan.
Shareef M and Saifudeen M were the associate directors with set design by Nisar Ibrahim. Sreejith and Baiju Kadalundi were in charge of light, while Viju Joseph rendered the music. Anil Kumar's poem added to the gravitas of play. Reena Saleem designed the costumes. Sasidharan Vellikoth was in charge of the theatre properties; Praveen and PK Saleem on transport with support by Naseer VH. Ashraf Khadar was the stage manager. Padmanabhan and Ajith Kandaloor undertook the design and graphics, while Afsal and Prajish K Dharmapalan were in charge of the finance. Prasannan and Vineeth promoted the play on social media. The coordination team also included Sharil Mannar, Isal MM and Naresh.


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