Only Shakespeare's plays are performed more frequently than those of Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906). The Norwegian playwright, theater director, and poet scandalized many of his contemporaries as he led the theater into the modern era by exploring the realities behind 19th-century social conventions.
In this chronicle of the Thirty Years War of the seventeenth century, Mother Courage follows the armies back and forth across Europe, selling provisions and liquor from her canteen wagon. As the action of the play progresses between the years 1624 and 1646 she loses her children to the war but remains indomitable, refusing to part with her livelihood - the wagon. The play is one of the most celebrated examples of Epic Theatre and of Brecht's use of alienation effect to focus attention on the issues of the play above the individual characters. It remains regarded as one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century and one of the great anti-war plays of all time. The Berlin production of 1949, with Helene Weigel as Mother Courage, marked the foundation of the Berliner Ensemble.
This volume contains expert notes on the author's life and work, historical and political background to the play, photographs from stage productions and a glossary of difficult words and phrases. The play is translated by Brecht scholar John Willett who did more than anyone else to make Brecht's work available in the English language.
Brian Friel's version of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler premiered at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in September 2008, to celebrate the theatre's birthday, eighty years after the Gate's inaugural production of Ibsen's Peer Gynt.