Mother Courage and Her Children


Mother Courage and Her Children


by Bertolt Brecht

in a translation by John Willett

revised by Ed Thomas

Director: John E McGrath

Composer & Musical Director: Dafydd James

National Theatre Wales returns to its birthplace in the south Wales valleys for the first production in its fifth season - a bold, anarchic  new version of Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 anti-war play performed in and around the Merthyr Labour Club.


Hinterland creator Ed Thomas returns to the stage to adapt, NTW artistic director John McGrath will direct and My Name is Sue composer Dafydd James will write original music, mixing Brecht’s world with the Saturday-night spirit of Merthyr.


Mother Courage has been described as the greatest play of the twentieth century. Performed by a cast of nine great Welsh actresses, in the gutsy English of the South Wales Valleys, and in the context of our own unending wars, this will be a defiantly twenty-first century version.


Tickets are on sale now

Find out more here

Location: Merthyr Tydfil
Members: 48
Latest Activity: May 12, 2016

Discussion Forum

Cerian Richards Community Cast Member from Merthyr College

Cerian shares her thoughts on why you should come and see Mother CourageContinue

Started by Jain Boon May 5, 2015.

Community Ensemble - Mother Courage 2 Replies

Kayleigh Adlam week I met Kayleigh in Merthyr Labour Club, she is a member of the Women's Community Ensemble working on Mother…Continue

Started by Jain Boon. Last reply by Jain Boon May 5, 2015.

Armed Forces in Wales 1 Reply

Mother Courage is set during a period of wartime and National Theatre Wales' production is to be staged in Merthyr Labour Club. With this in mind, I had look for some stats about the armed forces in…Continue

Tags: NTWMother

Started by Megan Roseblade. Last reply by National Theatre Wales Mar 4, 2015.

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Comment by Hannah Nelms on April 23, 2015 at 15:11


What does a mother need to do to survive in this day and age?!!!! The answer... draw blood from a stone. I am about to bust a vein, crunching numbers and calculating how many hours of my precious time is taken up, earning money to pay the rent, rates and other essentials [fibre optic broadband] of my new house to be. I have just been offered a salary job of £18000 a year, but upon frugally assessing the finances, I find I cannot afford it! I need a second job. Not only have I a 2 year old to bring up, I have a degree to get, a house to move into, a show to enjoy and yes, mouths to feed and bills to pay. It is a continual struggle. My personal 30 year war! soon to be 31year war this week!

Do I frown upon the decisions mother's end up taking in order to survive? NO! I am emphatic to the tragic form in which they have to be taken. When I first started the Mother Courage project, I thought Mother Courage was a cold, heartless bitch [can I swear?]. Anyway, upon looking at the two weeks I have had, I actually feel for her. I celebrate the female figure for her survival skills and I pray that I have an ounce of her 'Courage', in a world we cannot control, when the time comes for me to stand. In the word's of one of my songs 'What do I say, when children can't play? It's a crippling game! Dark Night; Big Fight and we're slain. Dark Night; Big Fight, the insane!'

I cannot wait for tonight's rehearsal... to bust out a few moves and shake [or twerk] out my stresses...

Comment by Hannah Nelms on April 23, 2015 at 13:57

thanks Gavin... I learnt that word for one of my songs. It was the best way to describe trying to say a lot using such little words.

Comment by Gavin Porter on April 20, 2015 at 11:50

Hi Hannah, I loved reading your post and look forward to the next instalment. Also you taught me a new work 'laconic' so thanks for that :)

Comment by Hannah Nelms on April 19, 2015 at 12:17
For the last two weeks I have been working with National Theatre Wales on the Mother Courage Project. It is a show of an all-talented, all-female cast who I have had the pleasure of meeting and watching them work. As I am a follower of National Theatre Wales on twitter, I got to hear about this opportunity on the World Wide Web; fantastic! What a great way to get the people of Merthyr Tydfil involved in the more learned and cultured world of theatre, to relate to issues alive today as much as they were hundreds of years ago. I am - to put it into little words - over the moon and honoured to be given the opportunity to take part in this.

Theatre (acting) is something I have always dreamed of. A dream I have never given up. I am now a single mother of my little ‘Soddler’ of two and a half years, which I think makes the project relevant. I am part of the community cast which is open to any female over the age of 30 and it’s in my local area too. It’s bloody great! With my life being as crazy as the show itself, I have decided to log the events and happenings in this here blog. This will not only make me look professional, but it will give me opportunity to keep track of my crazy life in relation to the play.

To be in this adapted version of Mother Courage and her Children, by Brecht and edited by Ed Thomas, is an opportunity of a life time for someone like me, and I am not about to let it get swamped by the wars in my own life; much like mother courage herself. My laconic way has never much suited a blog and this will be the first time I embark on such ventures. As part of the community cast, I’m sure I can dig deep enough to relate to Mother Courage and the play. What will Mother Courage teach me on Tuesday? :-)
Comment by Rhiannon White on April 19, 2015 at 11:22

Read my blog to find out more about our brilliant Merthyr Chorus, hear about what it means to them, to Merthyr and find out exactly why you should all come and see it

Comment by Rhiannon White on April 17, 2015 at 9:18

We’re a week and four days into rehearsals and yesterday was the first day we did a full run through of the play and I have to admit it went extremely well, the actors are brilliant, the trolley dancing blew my mind, I laughed  & cried.

Our first week has been incredible, beautiful, funny, insightful and thoughtful.  We’ve been working through the script one scene at a time, analyzing the text, talking about its relevance today and how that relates to our world here in the Labour Club, in Merthyr.


As emerging director it’s been fascinating to see how John McGrath and Jo Fong have created a space that is incredibly focused, alive and safe as well as being a space that is open to discussion, debate and play. From day one I’ve felt completely supported and encouraged and have watched how the actors have developed, grown and transformed into the characters they’re going to play. Which for them is one massive journey, as most will be playing men


Before the show I went out into Merthyr and spoke to the community about getting involved, my mission was to recruit a chorus of local women over the age of 30.  Merthyr is amazing, in fact I love Merthyr! It’s one of those places where everyone is curious about what’s going on and up for getting involved and this is what it’s all about because this show belongs to them.  


Working with the local community has really helped to inform our work, it’s been so useful hearing their thoughts on characters, the play, the themes and how we portray it all. I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks with them when we get them disco dancing and singing karaoke. I love my job!


What’s becoming more and more evident is how relevant this show is today not just to Merthyr but to everyone. I see Mother Courage’s everywhere in women who are surviving against all odds, working three jobs to provide for families and making tough decisions to keep on top of what life throws at them. That’s not to say Mother Courage’s decision are always right, but what  I’ve found this week is an understanding and an empathy in her struggle to survive in a man’s world.


Comment by Jain Boon on April 13, 2015 at 10:27

Day 1 of rehearsals for Mother Courage and the Merthyr Labour Club is packed with cast, crew and creatives. There is a buzz in the air, everyone is excited. I am here as I going to be exploring the education side of Mother Courage.

After introductions the tables and chairs are pushed aside and Jo Fong, Movement Director gets us all up on our feet (nobody is getting out of this!). We warm up our bodies and  shimmy around the dancefloor - after all there is a mirror-ball above us! We recall the songs and dance routines from our young 17 year old selves and move about as if time had stood still.

This is no ordinary production of Mother Courage with its all-female cast. It is a play within a play and as the audience arrive for a night out, so do our characters. It is a mash-up of old and new.

With original music by Dafydd James you might think you have heard these songs somewhere before. There is a feeling of familiarity about them.

This Mother Courage is of the past but also feels very relevant to the here and now.

The play is set during the Thirty Years War but what does it speak to us about today given our backdrop to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

“War is hell,” so General Sherman is often quoted. But sometimes, it’s the waiting around between the battles that’s the tough part. (as quoted in Walesonline)

How does it affect the women who are left behind as men from our communities go to war?

What about Mother Courage? How does she survive as she waits around between battles?  

What Brecht wanted and what National Theatre Wales want us to do, is to have a great night out, be entertained and to think about the world in which we live in.

What questions will this National Theatre of Wales production raise for you?

Come and find out. I know it is going to be a great night out!


Comment by Rhian Lewis on April 7, 2015 at 14:09

A few weeks ago, we held a live chat with the director of Mother Courage and Her Children, our very own John McGrath, and Musical Director, Dafydd James. Read the full transcript here:

Mother Courage and Her Children Live Chat

Comment by National Theatre Wales on March 23, 2015 at 21:38

Hi Mother Couragers - thanks for joining our group.  I thought I'd pop in to say hi and give you a quick update on how things are going. Today, fingers crossed, I think we finally finished auditions!  We have to talk to actors and agents a bit more over the next few days but we should be able to announce the cast very soon.

Which is just as well - as we start rehearsals in two weeks time!  As is usual for NTW we will be rehearsing onsite in Merthyr Tydfil, mainly at the Labour Club where we will be performing, and also at the Redhouse Arts Centre in Merthyr. If you want to know what the Labour club venue looks like, take a peek at the teaser video. As this video suggests, we will have a brand new musical score for the show - created by Daf James - and bringing Brecht's songs into the world of the club. I really love the new score, and one of the reasons that auditions have gone on so long is that we have been doing a lot of musical work with the actors as well as reading for the roles.

I'm very excited that we will finally have everyone together for the 'meet and greet' on Tuesday April 7 (we miss the Monday for Easter) - actors, creative team, and all of the production team too.  We'll be posting updates about rehearsals here, and will try to respond to any questions you have. 

The choice to work with an all female cast - a cast of 'Mother Courages' - is, I believe, going to reveal new things about the play, and I look forward to sharing our discoveries with you all.

Comment by Rhiannon White on March 3, 2015 at 9:54

Get Involved with Mother Courage and Her Children!


We are looking for women aged 40+ who would like to get involved with NTW new show Mother Courage and her children. 

Mother Courage and her children is a bold, anarchic  new version of Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 anti-war play performed in and around the Merthyr Labour Club.

Hinterland creator Ed Thomas returns to the stage to adapt, NTW artistic director John McGrath will direct and My Name is Sue composer Dafydd James will write original music, mixing Brecht’s world with the Saturday-night spirit of Merthyr.

The production will be performed by a female cast and will include a community ensemble of local women aged 40+. The community ensemble will interact with the audience and join in with songs.

No experience is necessary, just a willingness and a commitment to rehearsals/ shows. 

We'd love to hear from you if you'd like to get involved in this opportunity.  

Below are the key dates, we understand that it might be hard to commit to all of these so please get in touch regardless of what you can commit to and we will try to make it work.

 Key dates are:

7th April: Open meeting. (7pm - 9pm)

REHEARSALS    9th, 14th, 16th, 21st, 23rd, 28th, 30th April (7pm - 9pm)

PRODUCTION    6th May - 22nd May (with weekends off) ( 6pm - 10pm)  & including Thursdays (12pm - 4pm)

Please get in touch if you'd like to be involved or if you have any questions - or you can call directly on 07895030922.

Look forward to hearing from you all!



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