Wesley College Melbourne Australia
Wesley College Melbourne

Mother Courage and Her Children

Senior School Play
Mother Courage
Mother Courage & Her Children by Bertolt Brecht

The action begins in 1624 Sweden, during the Thirty Years’ War of 1618-1648. The time is largely irrelevant...war is war whenever and where ever it is fought. Canteen woman Anna Fierling, nicknamed “Mother Courage”, enters on a wagon pulled by her two sons, Eilif and Swiss Cheese. Her mute daughter, Kattrin, rides at her side. Two army officers attempt to recruit Anna’s sons but Anna resists. Despite her protective efforts, Anna’s brave, eldest son, Eilif, is recruited. The officers warn her that she can’t expect to live from the war without giving something in return.

After two years apart, Mother Courage is reunited with Eilif in Poland. She witnesses his commander praise his bravery after he murders peasants from necessity.

Anna scolds Eilif for not surrendering to the peasants to preserve his own life.

Three more years pass, and Mother Courage’s camp is invaded by the Catholic army. Swiss Cheese, now an army paymaster, is caught trying to hide the protestant paybox from the Catholic soldiers. Anna teams up with her companion Yvette to pawn the wagon and bribe the Catholics to release her son but Mother Courage ‘haggles’ for too long. The honest Swiss Cheese is tortured and killed. Anna denies knowing Swiss Cheese to protect the rest of her family and companions. The Chaplain suggests that Courage stock up on materials while prices are low. Kattrin is attacked and disfigured by soldiers. Eventually, Anna and Kattrin meet back up with the Protestant army and business thrives: until peace is declared. Although happy that two of her children have survived the war, Anna worries that peace will doom them financially.

War breaks out again and Mother Courage is back in business. Unfortunately, Eilif is captured and executed for killing peasants and stealing livestock during the brief peace. Mother Courage remains unaware of her son’s death.

By autumn business has slowed. Anna, Kattrin, and Cook are forced to beg for food.  Cook discovers he has inherited an inn, and invites Mother Courage to share it with him but Mother Courage is unwilling to abandon Kattrin.

Later, Kattrin and Anna arrive in a Protestant town. While Mother Courage does business, Kattrin learns that the Catholics are planning a secret invasion by night. She climbs onto a rooftop and beats a drum loudly to warn the town of the approaching attack. The Catholic soldiers plead with her to stop drumming, she refuses: they shoot her.

Now all three of Anna’s children are dead. She returns to her canteen and begins following a passing regiment—in business once again.

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