By: Eric Stroud, dramaturg
For me, this show spoke leaps and bounds about our tendency as human beings to romanticize war. The first scene of the play consists of two recruiters who are trying to convince Mother Courage’s eldest boy Eilif to enlist. “Next thing you know you’ll have a new cap and boots how bout it,” and “You’ve got guts, I like that,” stand as only two lines in a series of flatteries paid to Eilif.
Here at BYU, all students studying dramaturgy are strongly encouraged to create a lobby display for the main stage show they are dramaturging. It is, to an extent, a chance for the dramaturg to show their own comprehension of the show and the director’s concept. For my lobby display, I wanted to focus on this idea of romanticized war. Just as Brecht would point out that even a war as terrible as the 30 Years War can be made to be a “religious war,” or one that is justified, so too can any war today.
In addition to my depiction of the “Recruiter’s Battle Station,” I have also made a video to play at the television beside it.
The video shows us how Joe Schmo can go from ordinary, to extraordinary by a simple choice to become a soldier.
However, my compilation serves as a commentary on how this idea that becoming a solider will fix everything in your life and the lives around you is too simple. War is complicated, and sad, and in many cases changes your life and the lives around you for the worse.
The most commonly quoted line from this play is one that speaks as a reminder of the reality of war. “When war gives you all you earn, one day it make take something in return.” Our goals with this show are not to disrespect or belittle those who have fought for our freedom, or for the freedom of others. It is not some cheap academic opportunity to take snide stabs at the many aspects of war that we do not understand. Just like Brecht, we see this play as an opportunity to ask questions. Is war the only answer? Can we avoid it? And how can we as a nation adopt the answers to these questions.
Come and see the show and my lobby display. It is a wonderful show, full of hard subject matter, and probably different than a lot of theatre you have every seen. What I can promise is an enriching experience, full of new perspectives. See you soon!