Mother Courage and Her Children

Villanova Theatre to Challenge, Stimulate Audiences
with Mother Courage and Her Children

From November 13-18 and November 27-December 2, Villanova Theatre will entertain and challenge audiences with Bertolt Brecht’s epic drama, Mother Courage and Her Children. The production is directed by Assistant Professor Shawn Kairschner and features Professor Joanna Rotté in the title role. Mother Courage, written in the midst of World War II and set in the 1600s during the Thirty Years’ War, offers a highly theatrical examination of the relationship between commerce and conflict. Audiences will be invited to discuss the play’s enduring relevance during a post-show discussion on Thursday, November 29.

Villanova Theatre is located in Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Performances will be held at 8:00pm on Tuesday – Saturday and at 2:00pm on Sundays and the second Saturday. Tickets cost $20-$24, with discounts for seniors, students, and groups, and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610) 519-7474. Additional information is available online at

In Brecht’s masterpiece, Mother Courage and Her Children, a war rages on while the worldly-wise Mother Courage seeks her fortune selling goods to the soldiers. But the war exacts a price – as war always does – and Mother Courage’s soaring profits are tempered by searing loss. First performed in 1941, Mother Courage remains deeply moving and powerfully relevant.

When Villanova Theatre’s 2007-2008 season was announced last spring, Kairschner remarked that he hoped a change in US involvement with Iraq would have made Mother Courage less relevant at production time. Now, he hopes the play will invite exploration of the deeply personal impact that war has on individuals. “After a protracted war, the characters in the play are living in a climate of absolute scarcity,” he commented. “From our vantage point of plenty, it can be tempting to judge them according to our own experience. We forget that the decisions these people are forced to make are the result of the devastation of their communities and the decimation of their families.”

The aesthetic of Villanova Theatre’s production intertwines the world of the play with the era during which it was written. Janus Stefanowicz’ striking costumes capture the sensibility of the 17th Century, while incorporating the flair of the 1940s. The set, designed by Master’s student Lance Kniskern, is deceptively simple, with artfully designed multi-purpose pieces that move gracefully across a vast map of the countries involved in the Thirty Years’ War. John Thomas’ score, played onstage by an acoustic trio, sets Brecht’s songs to appealing melodies that accent the timeless quality of the play.

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was a poet, playwright, and theatre director. He was born in Augsburg, Germany. Brecht’s early plays, marked by a revolt against bourgeois values, won him success, controversy, and the Kleist Prize in 1922. Popularity came with Die Dreigroschenoper (1928, The Threepenny Opera), an adaptation of Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (1728), and from then until 1933 his work was particularly concerned with encouraging audiences to think rather than identify, and with experimentation in epic theatre and alienation effects. Hitler’s rise to power forced Brecht to leave Germany, and he lived in exile for 15 years, chiefly in the U.S. During this period, he wrote some of his greatest plays, including Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (1938, Mother Courage and Her Children) and Der Kaukasische Kreidekreis (1945, The Caucasian Chalk Circle). After his return to East Berlin in 1948, his directorial work on these and other plays with the Berliner Ensemble firmly established his influence as a major figure in 20th Century theatre. In 1955, one year before his death, he received the Stalin Peace Prize.

Shawn Kairschner, Ph.D., joined the Villanova University faculty in 2006 and directed last fall’s production of The Tempest. He has performed and directed in numerous venues in the United States and in England, including a three-year stint as the Artistic Director of the Sideway Theater Company in Berkeley, C.A., for whom he directed or produced a variety of productions from Shakespeare to original, one-person shows. Recent directorial credits include The Caucasian Chalk Circle in Williamstown, M.A., as well as Equus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a musical adaptation of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market at Stanford University, where he received his Ph.D.

Joanna Rotté, Ph.D. is a writer, actor, and director. She is professor of theatre in Villanova University’s Master’s program in theatre, as well as former chair of the department. She has lately appeared on the Vasey stage as Sister Beatrice in Fred and Jane, Hannah Hawke in Prayers of Sherkin, Claire Zachanassian in The Visit, and Catwoman in By the Bog of Cats. . .. Her most recent directing endeavor was last season’s The Chairs by Ionesco. Her own plays – Prajna, Death of the Father, and Art Talk – have been featured presentations at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. She is the author of Scene Change (A Theatre Diary: Prague, Moscow, Leningrad) and Acting With Adler. She writes regularly for the Soul of the American Actor Newspaper, archived at

Mother Courage and Her Children runs November 13-18 and November 27-December 2, 2007. Show times are 8:00pm Tuesday – Saturday and 2:00pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $20-$24 and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610) 519-7474. Visit for more information.

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Get Involved

Ushers are needed for every performance. Ushers arrive one hour before the show, hand out programs, help seat patrons, and see the show for free! Please contact the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 if you would like to usher.

Production Crew
We need volunteer crew members to help build sets, hang lights, and sew costumes. This is a great way to experience theatre "behind the scenes" and meet new people. Please contact Business/Production Manager Elisa Loprete Hibbs at 610-519-4897 to volunteer for production crew.

Open Auditions
Want to be in the spotlight? Audition for Villanova Theatre productions! Auditions are held throughout the year. 

Fact Sheet

WHERE: Villanova Theatre, Vasey Hall, Lancaster & Ithan Avenues, Villanova, Pennsylvania

WHEN: November 9 – November 21, 2010
Preview: Tuesday, November 9, at 8:00 p.m.
Opening: Wednesday, November 10 at 8:00 p.m.
Performs Tuesday-Saturday at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

$21.00 Tuesday Preview
$23.00 Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday
$25.00 Friday/Saturday evening/Sunday

Daniel Ciba ...Sir Charles/Daniel

Danielle DeStefano ...Lady/Household servant

Rebecca Dulac ...Household servant/ Flutist

Kimberly Fairbanks ...Lady. Bountiful

Charles Illingworth IV ...Aimwell

Michael Jansen ...Boniface

Dustin Karrat ...Bagshot

Stephanie King ...Dorinda

Felicia Leicht ...Kate Sullen

Seth Martin ...Gloss

Brendan Norton ...Foigard

Jessica O’Brien ...Cherry

Barbara Quinn ...Country Woman

Tim Rinehart ...Archer

Tom Saporito ...Scrub

Chris Serpentine ...Sullen

Rob Towarnicki ...Hounslow

WRITTEN BY: George Farquhar

ADAPTED BY: Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig

DIRECTED BY: Shawn Kairschner


COSTUME DESIGN: Janus Stefanowicz

LIGHTING DESIGN: Jerold R. Forsyth

MUSICIANS: Melissa Dunphy/Rebecca Dulac

DRAMATURG: Amanda Curry

VOCAL COACH: Neill Hartley



TICKETS:(610) 519-7474



Brian Morgan Benefit Night: Saturday, November 13
In memory of former Villanova student and actor, Brian G. Morgan, all ticket sales for the Nov. 13th performance directly benefit the Brian G. Morgan '67, '70 Memorial Award Fund. Patrons are invited to the reception that will follow this performance, in which a current Villanova Theatre graduate student will receive the 2010-2011 Award.

Speaker's Night: Thursday, November 18
Patrons are invited to attend a lively post-show discussion with the director, dramaturge, and guest speaker Laura Rosenthal, Professor of English at the University of Maryland. Dr. Rosenthal is an expert on the Restoration period and will shed light on how The Beaux' Stratagem develops various 18th century themes.