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AU Playhouse to stage unique version of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children April 10-13

Mother CourageOne of the cardinal rules of attending theatre performances is usually to turn off cell phones and electronic devices, but the creative artists of Anderson University Playhouse are staging a unique performance of Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht (English version by Eric Bentley) that encourages the use of electronic devices during the show. Texts and comments will even be projected on screen during the show.

“It is an experiment,” says director and theatre professor Rob Homer-Drummond, “especially for those of us who cringe when we see cell phones in a theatre. Each night, we are not asking patrons to put away their cell phones and iPads. We encourage them to send tweets to @aumothercourage and text messages to (864) 332-9391. As guests send messages and comments, they may be projected and affect the way that others view the play. What occurs in this space will be something different each time the play is done. We think Bertolt Brecht would be pleased with this effort because he wanted the audience to participate in the work—and continue to think— rather than blindly swallowing what was presented to them.”

The unique approach to presenting the work is the brainchild of Cara Wood of the AU theatre department. She has long advocated the use of technology in the department and the theatre program applied for a grant through Anderson’s Mobile Learning Initiative to stage the production. The Mobile Learning Initiative is AU’s groundbreaking program that provides iPads to all incoming freshmen and uses the devices as the platform for learning in specially designed classes across all University disciplines.

Brecht set Mother Courage and Her Children during the Thirty Years War of the early 1600s that was fought primarily in Central Europe, but in the Anderson University production the particular war is vague, so that it could be any war and all wars— perhaps even wars that have not yet been fought. So where the text mentions “Sweden” or some other country or where there is a reference to a particular religion or flag, the audience is encouraged to think of any country, religion or flag, for all have been used for the acquisition of power or money and have led to terror for ordinary human beings.

The production will feature the alternative rock music of Britain’s Duke Special and original work by AU students, Emily Ackerman, Lindley Key and Rachel Burns.

Performances will be April 10-12 at 7:30 pm with two performances at 2 pm and 7:30 p.m. on April 13. For tickets, call the AU box office at (864) 231-2080.

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