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In 2006, The Public Theater in New York City mounted an outdoor production of Mother Courage and Her Children, which boasted a new translation by Tony Kushner, featured Streep and the great Kevin Kline, and was directed by the Public’s George C. Wolfe. Written in 1939 largely in response to the invasion of Poland by Hitler’s German army, the play is about the devastating effects of war and the blindness of anyone hoping to profit by it. Nearly seven decades later—as the war in Iraq wages on with no discernible end—Brecht’s play has a lamentable resonance. That is, it rhymes.

Walter takes us behind the scenes, including unprecedented access into Streep’s artistic process. He interweaves these scenes with enthralling details about the play’s author, including a pivotal moment of Brecht’s brilliant testimony before the House Un- American Activities Committee, when he gave a brilliant performance and quickly departed the stage and the country.

THEATER OF WAR is more than a backstage pass. It’s an engrossing and fiercely intelligent look at war and capitalism, and their regrettable dependence on one another. But even more, it’s about the power—if not responsibility—of art and artists to cast a light on that which we prefer not to see.

Starring: Meryl Streep and Bertolt Brecht
Directed By: John Walter

Related: Theater of War is available to screen online


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