Posts Tagged ‘brechtian


Mother Courage & Her Children

Mother Courage

Queensland Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

25th May – 16th June 2013


Reviewed by Meredith McLean


Don’t worry, we will get to Meredith’s review, but first, it goes without saying that Dr. M Yunupingu, frontman of Yothu Yindi will be missed.


It has been requested that the first name and image of the deceased not be used by media and where possible refer to him as “Dr. M Yunupingu” or “lead singer of Yothu Yindi”, during Sorry Business and time of mourning for his people. Not mentioning the name of a recently deceased person is a cultural practice of Dr. M Yunupingu’s family and community and they have asked we all respect this protocol accordingly. Thanks to our friend Katie Noonan for this reminder.


There are only a few moments in time that aren’t synonymous with music. 

I remember being on a dance floor in 1993 and feeling the pride that everyone was dancing together to TREATY. It felt like the times were changing and hope was the currency with which we were purchasing this new world.

I reckon we should never trade that hope for fear or anger.

Thank you for the amazing music and the sense of civic and cultural growth we all felt.

Love and farewell.


Wesley Enoch


  • Dr. M Yunupingu was the first Indigenous Australian from Arnhem Land to gain a university degree
  • He co-founded Yothu Yindi in 1986
  • He became Australia’s first Aboriginal principal in 1990
  • He was named Australian of the Year in 1992 for his role in building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
  • He was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2012
  • Yothu Yindi won eight ARIA music awards, including Song of the Year for Treaty
  • The band released six major albums, from 1988 to 2000
  • Dr. M Yunupingu died aged 56 at his home in Yirrkala, NT, after fighting kidney disease for several years


Indigenous Australians are 4 times more likely to die of kidney disease than non-Indigenous Australians.




Remember QTC’s Head Full of Love

(You’ll see Roxanne McDonald in Mother Courage). During the 2010 season of Alana Valentine’s Head Full of Love QTC saw $14 000 donated by patrons, post-show to The Purple House (Western Desert Dialysis). In 2012 at QPAC’s Cremorne, in line with the heart-warming production, the company put out the call out for winter warmers to fill their Beanie Bin. 

Why not contribute this winter, your good quality, second hand knits, beanies, scarves and any other woolly-warmers to go towards St Vincent de Paul’s Winter Appeal and make someone else’s winter a tad more toasty?

For more information on the Alice Springs Beanie Festival visit

Beanies from the heart… Friendship has been at the heart of the Alice Springs Beanie Festival for seventeen years. We want to honour the values of friendship, including trust, loyalty, honesty, compassion and fun.

Queensland Theatre Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre present Bertolt Brecht’s epic morality tale about the ravages of war, given a unique twist by Queensland Theatre Company Artistic Director Wesley Enoch and Paula Nazarski in a dazzling new translation.

Instead of the Thirty Years’ War of 1600s Europe, this near-future incarnation of the age-old story is set against the bleak backdrop of a post-apocalyptic desert where Mad Max might be at home – an Australia ravaged by devastating conflict, where life is cheap but business is still business.

Ursula Yovich is the titular canteen-wagon mistress, shrewdly driving hard bargains as she shepherds her brood of three through this unforgiving, harsh wilderness.

With an all-Indigenous cast, this fresh spin on Brecht’s play delicately folds in themes of land ownership, the impact of mining and the Stolen Generation.



Mother Courage & Her Children is not so much an adaption as it is a vehicle; a vehicle that represents the state of theatre in Queensland, and the Indigenous culture that resides in Brisbane. Originally a Bertolt Brecht piece transformed to this post-apocalyptic Australian setting, all the classic Brechtian tips and tricks are evident. The minimalist set, the breaking of the fourth wall and the socio-political messages; it sounds like a dull drama class but the imagery on stage is impressive.


I did find however, Mother Courage & Her Children to be one of those strange anomalies in theatre. The cast, besides Ursula Yovich as Mother Courage and David Page as the Chaplain, failed to live up to expectations. The backing tracks also fell short of the musical masterpiece I’d been looking forward to. Despite all of this, Mother Courage & Her Children carries some significance.


I think the significance of this production is that despite its shortcomings it’s clear to see the hard work that has gone into it. Bertolt Brecht is such an old school playwright and to translate his voice into a modern setting is hard enough. Paula Nazarski and Wesley Enoch were responsible for this translation. Mother Courage and Her Children was originally written as a warning to 1930s Germany and the quickly rising Nazi party. However, to translate it to an Australian Outback motif with a primarily Indigenous cast is not only innovative in concept but also impressive in realisation.


If the importance of this production felt like it was weighing me down, the after-party certainly brought me back! It was wonderful to see the cast, crew and higher-ups involved, enjoying a glass of champagne, laughing and smiling. But we weren’t just there to have a chat. Sue Donnelly, executive Director of QTC, took the stand and voiced her appreciation not only to the cast but also to QTC and everyone involved. Other than acknowledging those who deserved a well-earned applause she spoke about the progress of QTC and the season in store… 2013 is definitely packed with great theatre.


Despite its hit and miss nature, the beautiful and poignant moments of Mother Courage & Her Children truly are worth witnessing. This play represents so much more than a show about a mother in a war zone. It is a sign of good things to come at QPAC and well worth your attention.



Too Late! (Antigone) Contest #2

Too Late! (Antigone) Contest #2

Powerhouse Theatre

MOTUS (Italy)



Billed as an “intensely physical performance by one of Italy’s most adventurous companies famed for its take-no-prisoners theatrical style,” I couldn’t help but remember something that those who have travelled extensively usually mention upon their return.  “There’s good and bad and… interesting theatre everywhere,” they say. Let’s call Too Late (Antigone) Contest #2 interesting theatre. There is something sacred about sharing the space in which a work so intense and challenging happens and there is something slightly bemusing too. I may well be the only person in the entire western world who doesn’t love this particular piece of touring contemporary theatre.


Once we get past the title, which implies that one might like to have a certain level of understanding about the original ancient Greek story, which inspired Sophocles to write the play upon which Bertolt Brecht based his version in 1947, we enter a dark, open space within the Powerhouse theatre; a configuration I’ve not seen before. The audience is a typical festival crowd (yes, there’s such a thing) of newbies and hard-core theatre types, including performers from some of the other festival productions. A long, narrow strip of garish, greenish light delineates the performance space (the audience is seated on both sides of it) and two actors, one at either end, pace and sit and stand and stretch and prepare – for what seems like an eternity (Brecht’s 1977 version had the company of actors on stage throughout, in full view of the audience, forever fixing their make up and preparing for their scenes) – for a series of mini battles, which represent the recent political upheaval in Italy as much as they do the unsavoury events of the original tale. These battles intermixed with commentary from the actors as actors; make up the non-narrative structure of the show.


The original shocking story, briefly, for the uninitiated and for those who surfed rather than attend their Ancient History lectures (fair enough), goes like this: Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus and his mother Jocasta (yes, you read that right), desires to bury properly, according to tradition, her brother, deemed traitorous by the king, Creon. Antigone elects to bury her brother’s body herself and she is captured and punished for breaking the law. In typical ancient history feminine I’m-as-empowered-as-a-prostitute-with-a-pimp response, she hangs herself. Haimon, the son of Creon who loves her, kills himself after finding her body.



At one point, one of the actors makes a reference in English, to the English surtitles; a wry dig at contemporary theatre that, unfortunately, didn’t go down so well with this particular audience, perhaps because there were those nodding their heads in agreement with the sentiment, “I hate contemporary theatre!”


The two actors, Silvia Calderoni and Vladimir Aleksic, play with power and status from the outset, becoming dogs, on all fours, barking and growling at each other before they become more obvious characters from ancient or current politics. They are highly physical, though not frighteningly physical; the Brechtian devices ensure that we remember they are actors in a play and, though relaxed, they are poised, ready for anything (and we’ve seen riskier moves in other productions). The androgynous-looking Calderoni (think Aaron Carter half dressed as Lisbeth Salander) literally throws herself into an early scene and onto Aleksic’s shoulders, beating him and kicking to bring down the low-set lighting rig above her. The most disturbing tactic, though used once too often, is a hug of the extreme (choking, suffocating) kind, which, when coupled with the amplified gurgled, strangulated sounds of the suddenly fragile Calderoni clasped beneath (for what seems a rather unreasonable length of time) the taller, broader figure of Aleksic, is quite chilling.



We know that a Brechtian piece particularly, and much of our contemporary theatre is designed to dissatisfy, prompting us to question the bigger issues in our dull little lives, to recognise the contradictions of living and to remember that even the good folk suffer. We see it and we know it to be true and yet it seems unfamiliar. It’s okay then, to leave the space feeling uncomfortable. That’s the idea.


Too Late! (Antigone) Contest #2 is not everyone’s cup of tea but if you see it’s coming to a theatre near you, I say, go. While it wasn’t my favourite thing on the menu, it was the Green Eggs and Ham show. And I know you think you don’t like green eggs and ham. But try it and you may, I say. (Who am I to tell you that the Brioche is better?) Be prepared to sit and concentrate for 55 minutes and observe from the outside in; this is an interesting show, guaranteed to get you thinking – and talking – long after you’ve left the venue.