HARWICH – Students from Sturgis East and West Public Charter Schools in Hyannis, including students from Chatham, will perform two one-act plays revolving around war and its effect on families at the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre this weekend.
“Mother Courage and Her Children” by Bertolt Brecht will be co-directed by Diana Young, Sturgis East’s theater teacher. “Dark Road” by Laura Lundgren Smith will be co-directed by Anna Botsford, Sturgis West’s theater teacher.
“Anna and I are both excited to present these one-act plays to our community,” Young said last week. “We are proud of the dedication and leadership our students have shown, and we know it will be an event that showcases the talent and strength of our program.”
After the performances, both schools will participate in the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG) Festival, a competitive event that includes 112 one-act plays produced by member high schools. Sturgis West qualified for the semifinals in 2018 and 2019. The campuses will compete against each other in the METG festival.
“Mother Courage and Her Children” was written by Brecht in 1939, on the eve of World War II. Brecht is best known for his 1928 play “The Threepenny Opera.” Born in Bavaria, Brecht left Germany in 1933 when Hitler took power and was living in Stockholm, Sweden by when he wrote “Mother Courage.” He spent WWII in the United States.
Sturgis East student Julia Keeling will co-direct “Mother Courage.” Although it was written in the fall of 1939, after Germany invaded Poland and set the scene for WWII, “Mother Courage” takes place in the 17th century, during the Thirty Years’ War in Europe. It tells the story of Anna Fierling, nicknamed Mother Courage, who is determined to make a living during the war by working as a “canteen woman” following the Swedish Army. In the end the war destroys Mother Courage’s family and she loses all three children. Some critics consider “Mother Courage” to be the greatest anti-war play of all time.
“I have always enjoyed this play, and I am happy to be producing a show that links so nicely with the study of theatre practitioners and theatre history,” Young says. “Additionally, several students have taken a leadership role in this production, such as my assistant director, stage manager, and set designer. I am proud of all the hard work they and the rest of the cast and crew are putting into crafting the vision and portrayal of this story.”
Rowan Wood of Chatham, a junior at Sturgis East, is the dramaturg of “Mother Courage.” “Much of Rowan’s research informed the design and vision choices for our show,” Young says.
Sturgis West will perform “Dark Road,” published in 2016. The play, co-directed by Botsford and Sturgis West students Ava Mark and Patrick Tompkins, is set in Nazi Germany and tells the story of Greta, a young woman who learns that a nearby women’s concentration camp is hiring guards. Greta sees employment there as a chance to find her place in the world and to provide for her sister, Lise. So what happens when a person with a good heart naively enters such a situation? Greta learns how to justify her crimes, and heads down the dark road laid by the Third Reich. Lise is shocked at what her sister becomes, and through they drift apart, their fates are linked. “Dark Road” is a powerful drama about the choices a person can make that allow evil to become ordinary.
“I am beyond proud to be directing such a powerful and provocative piece that also feels quite timely,” Botsford says. “After several years of performing comedies, we have decided to present a drama and I am impressed with the students’ ability to play such diverse and emotional roles with maturity and thoughtfulness.”
Genevieve Sull of Chatham, a senior at Sturgis West, plays the role of Musician in “Dark Road.”
Sturgis offers a wide variety of arts programs. In addition to theater, students can take chorus, music and art during their freshman and sophomore years. Theater, music and art are also offered as high-level international baccalaureate classes in junior and senior years. In addition, the East and West campuses hold a joint fall performance through Sturgis Theatre Arts Guild of Entertainers (STAGE), which is an extra-curricular theatre program that produces quality, student-driven productions in a wide variety of genres including musicals, Shakespearean classics and contemporary plays.
“Mother Courage and Her Children” and “Dark Road”
At the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre, Division Street, West Harwich
Friday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.
Tickets $10 for adults and $5 for students, available at the door or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.