The Theatre Department at Carthage provides opportunities for not only Carthage students and Carthage faculty, but also for members outside of the immediate community, such as visiting authors and guest directors. Mary MacDonald Kerr is a guest director who is returning to direct Mother Courage and Her Children, and she was kind enough to answer some questions I had about her experience as a guest director. 

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Mother Courage and Her Children with Returning Guest Director Mary MacDonald Kerr

  • Guest Director Mary MacDonald Kerr
    Guest Director Mary MacDonald Kerr
    for client’s professional headshot/promotion use only

By Madison Kobe ’18

November 02, 2017

Mother Courage and Her Children with Returning Guest Director Mary MacDonald Kerr

By Madison Kobe ’18


The Theatre Department at Carthage provides opportunities for not only Carthage students and Carthage faculty, but also for members outside of the immediate community, such as visiting authors and guest directors. Mary MacDonald Kerr is a guest director who is returning to direct Mother Courage and Her Children, and she was kind enough to answer some questions I had about her experience as a guest director. 

How did you get involved in the production of Mother Courage and Her Children?

I was hired to direct Mother Courage and Her Children by Herschel Kruger. I directed Urinetown here at Carthage in the spring of 2016. It was a very successful production and the beginning of a great relationship between myself and the theatre department. I am a professional director and actor, but I very much enjoy working with college students.

In what ways is this project different from past projects you have worked on?

This production is different from other projects I have worked on in several ways. Mother Courage is by Bertolt Brecht, and is considered one of the best plays of the 20th century. We are lucky enough to be working with composer Josh Schmidt- who worked with our cast to create original live music that is part of the production- and that process has been very exciting. This translation of Mother Courage is written by Tony Kushner, who also wrote Angels in America, and it is very modern and accessible for today’s audience. This play is rarely done by any theatre company, much less by college level actors. It has been very gratifying to watch young actors take on Brecht and learn about the style and challenges that come with it.

What challenge(s) have you faced while directing Mother Courage?

There have been several challenges met while rehearsing this play. There are seventeen cast members, and it can be tricky to schedule time to rehearse as much as we do with all of the various schedules of busy college students. It is a substantial script with complex ideas that require intense focus and time to master. We are also creating and executing original live music which requires time. The title character, Mother Courage, is an enormous role that actresses wait a lifetime to play. Jordan Nazos ’18 is wonderful in the part- mostly because she has worked tirelessly to learn it.

What has been a highlight of your experience as a guest director?

The highlights for me when I get to work with college students are always the moments when actors try something they have never tried before. Acting takes courage; it is a risky business, and witnessing these young people taking these risks is a beautiful thing. It is increasingly rare to have purely human experiences- ones where technology has nothing to do with what is happening- and it refreshes my mind and soul to be a part of them.

What advice would you offer to someone considering a career in the performing arts?

My advice to anyone pursuing a career in the performing arts is this: get as much training in your field as possible from varied sources, and develop a trade and/or skill that can move with you to help make money. Develop an opinion about what you want from your future, and at the same time be open to changing your plan to learn and experience new things.

Mother Courage and Her Children

Told over the course of twelve years, this story follows Mother Courage and her three children: the proud and bold Eilif, her eldest son, Swiss Cheese, her simple and honest son, and Kattrin, her mute but selfless daughter. Mother Courage makes her living during the Thirty Years’ War, a bloody battle between Catholics and Protestants in the crumbling Holy Roman Empire. Despite being decidedly against the war, she profits from it as she travels throughout Europe selling supplies to soldiers. However, as she finds herself travelling deeper into the war, tragedy strikes her family. Mother Courage must continue on, doing whatever it takes to survive the tribulations of her chaotic world. Considered to be one of the greatest anti-war plays of all time, it is a cautionary tale that is deeply heartbreaking yet tragically comedic. As one of Bertolt Brecht’s greatest protests to the rise of fascism in 1930’s Germany, Mother Courage and Her Children is a dark satire about the effect war has on the people living through it.

Nov. 3-4 | 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 5 | 3 p.m
Nov. 9-11 | 7:30 p.m.

Adults $14, Seniors (55+) $10, Students $8
Get your tickets online 24/7 at or Tuesday to Friday, Noon to 5 p.m. at 262-551-6661.