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As a designer in a production of Bertolt Brecht's 'Mother Courage...

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As a designer in a production of Bertolt Brecht's 'Mother Courage and Her Children': "The anti-illusionistic devices in my play arouse curiosity and create understanding."

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  • July 16, 2004
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It is absolutely essential that, as a designer, I have clear decisions about the impact of the theatrical devices I use and what I want to accomplish through my design. By using anti-illusionistic devices in Mother Courage and her Children, specifically by using alienation techniques, I hope to awaken the critical thinking of the audience. I want to encourage the audience to move out of their comfort-zone. I want to encourage the audience to move out of their comfort-zone.

Like Brecht, I want my audience to learn from Mother Courage and her Children, not merely receive be entertained; however, I also want them to find delight in the play - the delight that comes from discovering new truths about one's self and the world one lives in. I want to reconcile the art of teaching and of pleasing. The audience should think critically about the play and the messages it presents, but they should also enjoy their experience. It is important that both the instructional and interesting parts of the play are reaffirmed by the design of set, lighting, costume and props.

I would like to stage Mother Courage and Her Children on a large modern proscenium stage, as I believe that this style of stage will serve to constantly remind the audience of their whereabouts - an artificial environment created within a theatre auditorium. This style of stage creates a sort of 'barrier' of empty space between the audience and the actors, which serves as an alienation technique, but it will not distance the audience so much that they will not be able to follow the happenings on-stage. I do not intend to change the overall shape of the theatre or the stage, as I do not believe that they should be in any way disguised as something they are not. It is important that the audience realise through the whole play that it IS a stage and they ARE in a theatre.

I envisage a large, mostly bare stage, starkly lit with a pool of white light. I am going to use numerous lights instead of a single...