• seanmartin

    Yes, Brecht was writing about the Thirty Years’ War, but there’s not a lot in the play that would ruthlessly tie it down to one era or another. Having seen productions that took this and put it in everything from medieval to post-apocalyptic, it’s a play that, by its very nature, is quite pliable.

    But then we get to your other question: can a white director find a black perspective? I honestly wonder if that’s really required in this kind of production. After all, if it were to be performed as originally written, would that require a German — or medieval — perspective? Or should we just accept, as Brecht usually expects us to, that these people are German simply because they say they are? Perhaps that’s the point: for this production, it’s in the Congo because that’s what we’re told, not because it has to be. We accept that these are Congolese, even though intrinsically there’s no real reason for the director or the actors to spoon-feed us anything about that. We know who they are. We know where they are. Now let’s move on the more important message within the play, and let Brecht’s theatricality do the work it’s intended to do.

    Is this reducing the change in time and geography to just a conceit for the purpose of the production? It very well might. Is the director reducing the character of the Mother to a simple delusional woman? Well, not to be too frank here, but she *is* delusional — that’s one of the Big Points of the play. She may be strong, she may be formidable… but ultimately she’s deluding herself if she thinks she’s improving anyone’s lot, including her own.

    Sure, maybe this was a lousy concept from the start, since it seems to be one of those really great ideas one scribbles on a bar napkin at 3AM. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they dont. But I get the decided impression that what happened here was that the lead actress wanted to impose something on Brecht that Brecht himself would have called into question.

    Just my 0.02. YMMV.

  • BenWats

    Amiri Baraka, the poet, novelist, and activist who just passed, said “Thought is more important than art. To revere art and have no understanding of the process that forces it into existence, is finally not even to understand what art is.”

    Perhaps we could ask “Is a Black Perspective Too Much to Ask of Brian Kulick and Duncak Sheik?”

  • JayWilson

    Point officially missed. Mother Courage = Strong Woman. CSC moves Mother Courage to Congo. CSC’s Black Mother Courage = Weak and Delusional. #directorFAIL #SubconsciousRacism #TonyaWasRight

  • Will Damian

    FInally, an intelligent, completely articulate response to this situation. Until this piece, not one single response, not Larry Kramer, Brian Kuliick, Duncan Shiek (with of his embarrassing and apologetic political correctness), none of them ever mentioned the fact that it’s an actor’s job to interpret the role, NOT ATTEMPT TO CONTROL THE DIRECTORIAL VISION OF A THEATRE PRODUCTION!!!! If Ms. Pinkins wants that control, become a director! Period the end. And, if she is more politically motivated than she is motivated by an amazing acting role, which most actresses would kill to play, than go to Washington D.C. and enter POLITICS!
    Political correctness is destroying THE THEATRE!!!!

    • kevdog

      I fail to see what you think is “politically correct” here. How do you define the term?

      • Will Damian

        If you do not understand what political correctness is look it up in the dictionary!!!!

  • kevdog

    In general, I agree with you. However, it is clear where your sympathies lie from this statement “wouldn’t do justice to the story she was trying to tell.” This is a subversion of roles and would get most actors into hot water with the director, regardless of the play.

    • Will Damian

      The story Tonya Pinkins would have Gotten to tell, had she not, unprofessionally, walked out on the production, would have come from her INTERPRETATION of the character in the play, which is only PART of the STORY that the DIRECTOR is TRYING TO TELL. That is the Director’s job, not the Actress’ job. She was an ACTOR in the production and unless she get it in her contract that she had final say on the directorial concept, she does not get to disagree with his interperation, no matter what any of us think of it. Bottom line: she allowed her political motivations to dictate her actions, in walking out on the production, before opening night! The business is unforgiving, she will soon find out, if she doesn’t already know it. And, if you read Ms. Pinkins’ statement, she acknowledged this role was the first major role she had been offered since 2004, Caroline of Change. After this debacle, it’s going to now be a lot longer than that. To further confirm my point, in reading Kecia Lewis’ statement, the new actress in the role, clearly chose to put her politics aside because her motivations are to play an incredible role! Not to make a political point. That’s where an actor’s motivations should lie. Otherwise, become a fucking politician, not an actor!