Say the name, Brecht, and most people ask if you have a bad cold. Others envision the now-classic image of Raul Julia on the New York Public’s 3 Penny Opera poster or quietly start humming Mack the Knife.
Theater of War, however, focuses on a production of Mother Courage at the Papp with extensive interviews and observation of Streep, Kushner, and others involved in the production. And, rather intriguingly, we also get a poli-sci view of his work as well as historical context… even footage from the House Un-American Activities Committee and of the first production of the play in a devastated Berlin.
This is not bland stuff as they also set it in direct contrast to the reaction to 9/11 which was the impetus for mounting the production in the first place.
A truly intriguing piece of documentary film-making, it provides both artistic as well as political insight into why we create art at all. It becomes, in fact, sort of a pseudo-Brecht play in its way and does so unapologetically.
Even if you don’t normally watch this kind of non-fiction, I’d recommend it.