AND HER CHILDREN
BY BERTOLT BRECHT, 1939
ACT ONE, SCENE ONE
SERGEANT: What they could use around here is a good war. What else can you espect with peace running wild all over the place? You know what the trouble with peace is? No organization. And when do you get organization? In a war. Peace is one big waste of equipment. Anything goes, no one gives a damn. See the way they eat? Disgusting! How many horses have they got in this town? How many young men?
Nobody knows! They haven’t bothered to count ’em!
That’s peace for you! I’ve been in places where they haven’t had a war for seventy years, and you know what? The people haven’t even been given names. They don’t know who they are! It takes a war to do that. In a war, everyone’s registered, everyone’s names on a list. Their shoes are stacked, their corn’s in the bag, you count it all up – cattle, men , et cetera – and you take it away. That’s the story: no organization, no war.
Of course a war’s like any good deal: hard to get going. But when it does get going, it’s a pisser, and they’re all scared of peace, like a dice player who can’t stop – because when peace comes, they have to pay up.
Of course until it gets going, they’re just as scared of war, it’s such a novelty!
A harmonica s heard. A canteen wagon rolls onstage, drawn by two young fellows (her sons). Mother Courage is sitting on it with her daughter Kattrin.
Mother Courage sings:
Cannon is rough on empty bellies:
First with my meat they should be crammed.
Then let them go and find where hell is’
and give my greetings to the dammed!
Winter is gone! Dead men sleep on!
Let all of you who still survive
get out of bed and look alive!
(Song is an excerpt)