Mother Courage and her Children
Rehearsals: Spring 2008
Rehearsal Journal, by Susie Polnaszek,
Community Partnerships Director and Assistant Director

April 20, 2008 Scene 3

Now I know why Dor stays awake, her mind racing,
following each rehearsal.  My mind was going too after we
met tonight at Theatre Puget Sound (TPS).  This was my
first solo flight, covering the rehearsal without Dor.  It's
interesting to learn about the collaboration between Dor
and I.  I felt her presence because she laid the
groundwork for the scene.  She created a rhythm of how
the group approaches the work together.  The way we
move from text to our feet.
(c) 2005  Edge Theatre Ensemble
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An new exercise I led went off in a
completely different direction
than I had anticipated.  The actors
improvised their hearts out, but
instead of starting from given
circumstances of the shapes in the
space (how I'd learned the game)
they started from their heads
asking questions like lawyers.  
Good stuff came up, so it was fine
in the end.  I worry that it was too
cerebral or psychological for
Brecht though.  Suzannah (our
stage manager), says, no, you have
to have commitment to the
action/story when it gets
interrupted.  They have to take the
audience along.

I also tried to play with handing
ownership of the work over to the
group-actors.  They are so
committed and so talented.  My
role with them feels very different
than when I've worked with
non-actors on other projects.  
Quite a gift to have folks who are
willing to go there.
April 28, 2008 Scene 4

There's something so powerful when an
actor "drops in."  Unexpected, unplanned.  
It reminds us of the other layers of our work
beyond the craft.  It is a privilege to witness
emotional connectedness, especially when
a distant war teaches us to stay a little bit
numb/blind most of the time.  There's power
in it.

Again, it raises a question for me about
Brecht's purpose.  Does he want us
(audience) to cry with the characters only to
be jarred quickly out of our empathy and
catharsis?  Into..what?  My understanding is
that he wants to pull at the audience (and
actors) that much to make the contrast that
much more startling. I suppose it is a
strategy for  raising questions in and among
the audience/community. I'll leave it up to
the Brecht experts in our group to say it
more eloquently.
Susie holds a BA in theatre from Smith College and a Master's degree in Transforming Spirituality from
Seattle University.  She brings over 15 years of experience making theatre in community, fringe, and
educational settings.  Her collaborators include Edge Theatre Ensemble, DxM Theatre in the New Holly
Community, and the 365 Days/365 Plays project in Madrona and the Central District.  She helps artists to
engage with communities and communities to make theatre. This process is fun and life-giving.  Theatre
often serves as a laboratory for learning, personal growth, and justice-making.  In this way, the creative
process is a form of spiritual practice for Susie.