By Jocelyn Illing, February 14 2017 —
Although technology may be efficient, there is one important thing the Internet and cinema cannot give us — human interaction. Theatre provides us with entertainment, as well as a human connection we cannot get from movies or television.
University of Calgary students will have the opportunity to witness such an event in the form of Mother Courage and Her Children.
The U of C School of Creative and Performing Arts will present Bertolt Brecht’s play Mother Courage and Her Children at the University Theatre from Feb. 17–19 and Feb. 21–25.
Mother Courage is an ensemble piece that takes place in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War. It centres around the title character and her children as they struggle to survive.
U of C associate drama professor Valerie Campbell will play the role of Mother Courage. She says this “iconic play” is relevant to today’s society.
“Mother Courage [is] determined but flawed in the way she goes about conducting her life. [The play] has a lot of political resonance that won’t be lost on audiences,” she says.
Campbell has taught acting and movement at the U of C since 1998. She says the chance to play this role is “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“It is the plum role,” she says. “It’s like Hamlet for younger men. Even though it’s a huge undertaking, I felt like I had to do it.”
Although her role is important, Campbell stresses that the piece is an ensemble. She says many students from various backgrounds have worked relentlessly over the last few weeks to prepare for the show.
Campbell says she has been able to influence the students while simultaneously learning from them as a way to “stay current” and continue her lifelong study of theatre.
But director Adrian Young says the road to opening night hasn’t been easy.
“The process of getting the show together [has been] a perpetual nightmare,” Young says. “[While saying that], I think that the reason why we always remember nightmares most clearly is because they kind of get the adrenaline up the most. It is that kind of feeling that [helps you] stay on top of everything.”
Young says working with students was unique.
“With students, especially with student actors, you have this interesting nature of not being able to know what they know in terms of what they have learned,” he says. “It becomes an interesting bond between directing and sometimes teaching, which, in a way, have similar goals. You don’t want to tell them what to do, you want to give them the tools and the structure to thrive.”
Young — a graduate student at the U of C — became infatuated with drama at a young age. He grew up in England and has participated in after-school drama clubs since he was four years old.
“I was just always in [the arts] and English theatre is more a part of the direct culture,” he says. “I don’t even remember a time where I wasn’t involved in theatre, actually. That’s how it happened and then I did my undergrad in Ontario after I moved to Canada. Having the opportunity to come here and do theatre as a full-time student was just really nice.”
With this production, Young hopes to shorten the distance between individuals and the reality of war.
“I think that a lot of Canadians have this sense that Canada is out of [the] idea of war and making money off of war,” he says. “I think now with what has happened in the United States, more and more people are starting to figure out that you have to get involved, you have to do something, because otherwise, these things will happen and we just have to stand there and be a hypocrite.”
The performances will run Feb. 17–19 and Feb. 21–25 at the University Theatre and there will be a themed pre-show reception on opening night. Tickets are free with your student ID.
For more information, visit scpa.ucalgary.ca