Barbra Berlovitz stars as 'Mother Courage'

For Mother Courage and Her Children, the group's co-founder Barbra Berlovitz teamed up with Chicago's Bricklayers Theatre and Paris's Collectif Masque for a production that has a distinct Jeune Lune vibe. Perhaps this is because the production is a collaboration between American and French artists, or it's the mask-based staging, or it's that the set will be in the shape of a giant circus tent.

Collectif Masque co-founder Mariana Araoz directs the play, which features a cast of seven actors playing 30 roles. The production uses Tony Kushner's version of Brecht's play, which follows a camp follower and war profiteer during the Thirty Years War. For Berlovitz, the part offers a chance for the actress to dig deep into a complex character--one whose choices causes much pain and suffering, but who always strives to retain her humanity. "She's like a female King Lear," she says.

For the company, which has ties to the Twin Cities, bringing in an actor of Berlovitz's reputation and experience for the title role was a natural decision. The entire work is a collaboration between the two theaters and the performer.

For the young artists in Bricklayers, the production has been years in the making, including performances in Chicago in 2010. From the beginning the company has been dedicated to forging a new mask-based theater, using it for adaptations of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Twelfth Night, among other shows.

"The play's events are horrible at times, but the masks are funny. Our laughter makes the play accessible," Berlovitz says.

The production is also collaborating with two local companies, Open Eye Figure Theatre and the Bedlam Theatre. The latter will present the Brechtacle, a series of special events, starting with "Barbara's Sausage Party" February 5, featuring music by Dreamland Faces. There will also be post-show cabarets February 12 and 13 which will feature work by Lisa Channer, Bedlam Theatre, Sandbox Theatre, and Live Action Set. For tickets and more information, visit the Bedlam website.

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