Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Caroline, or Change) has penned a new world premiere translation of the 1941 Brecht work, written while Brecht was in exile from his native Germany. Kushner's Caroline, or Change collaborator Jeanine Tesori has created original music for the show's several songs—audience-distancing musical interludes are staples of Brecht's mature works.
In the major work by Brecht, the canny, mercenary survivialist Mother Courage trudges through the Thirty Years War, switching alliances and carving out deals, while eventually losing all three of her children—Kattrin, Eilif and Swiss Cheese—through a jaded mix of capitalism, carelessness and callousness.
Streep has some good company in the production by New York Shakespeare Festival/The Public Theater. Kevin Kline plays the role of the Cook. Austin Pendleton is the Chaplain.
Mother Courage's three unfortunate children are portrayed by Frederick Weller (as Eilif), Geoffrey Arend (as Swiss Cheese) and, as the mute Kattrin, Alexandria Wailes, the deaf actress who came to attention in Broadway's Big River and Off-Broadway's recent revival of Children of a Lesser God.
Jack Noseworthy, remembered from the Broadway musical Sweet Smell of Success, portrays various roles. Jenifer Lewis plays the long-suffering tart Yvette. Also in the cast are Raul Aranas, Max Baker, Ato Essandoh, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Glenn Fleshler, Michael Izquierdo, Eugene Jones, George Kmeck, Paco Lozano, Michael Markham, Larry Marshall, Sean Phillips, Silvestre Rasuk, Brittany Underwood, Jade Wu and Waleed Zuaiter.
The three-and-one-half hour Mother Courage continues to Sept. 3.
Mother Courage is the first of two Public assignments Kline will essay this year. In the fall, he's scheduled to tackle the title role in King Lear with James Lapine directing. It is also part of a summer season of war-oriented plays which began with Macbeth and will continue with a single Park performance of Stuff Happens.
How do you snag tickets to the free summer productions at the Delacorte?
Pick up your free Shakespeare in the Park tickets on the day of the performance beginning at 1 PM at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park or from 1 to 3 PM at The Public Theater box office, 425 Lafayette Street.
There will be limited ticket distribution for the Aug. 21 and Aug. 31 performances.
There will be an open-captioned performance of Mother Courage and Her Children on Sept. 3. The sign language-interpreted performance by Hands On will be Aug. 27.
For more information, visit www.publictheater.org.