“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? In this new adaptation by Artistic Director Brian Katz of the classic novel, Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of gray with a verdict that will haunt us all.
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Once again, Custom Made Theatre brings a Kurt Vonnegut novel to the stage with the world premiere of Brian Katz’s adaptation of Vonnegut’s third and highly celebrated novel, Mother Night. It’s a metafictional tale of duplicitous spies, bumbling white supremacists, Soviet operatives, and an anti-hero that is far too familiar. It is also a love story, which fantasizes an idyllic “nation of two” as the only way to survive when the world has gone mad.
Mother Night tells the story of Howard W. Campbell, whom audiences may remember as the American-born, Nazi propagandist from Slaughterhouse-Five which was presented at Custom Made in 2014.
In Mother Night, we learn that Campbell's story is much more complicated – that he was actually a double agent for the Allies, and was passing along secrets coded in his anti-Semitic radio broadcasts heard throughout the Third Reich. But at the same time, these broadcasts inspired and entertained Germans, helping them to believe the racist, totalitarian lies of Hitler and Goebbels.
Years later, Campbell has been living quietly in New York City, mourning the loss of his wife, when his solace is shattered by one betrayal after another. Eventually, he finds himself in a jail cell in Jerusalem, awaiting his fate, revisiting his past, and contemplating a job done too well.
In true Vonnegut fashion, Mother Night uses non-linear storytelling to piece together Campbell's history, and expertly fills in the jigsaw puzzle of a life that mirrors many events of the last century.
Daniel Bilodeau (Scenic Design); Stephanie Dittbern (Properties Design); Beth Hall (Production Manager); Brooke Jennings (Costume Design); Maxx Kurzunski (Lighting Design); Ryan Lee Short (Sound Design); Kalon Thibodeaux (Stage Manager)
The Custom Made Theatre Co., in its 18th season of production in San Francisco, is committed to producing plays that awaken our social conscience, focusing on the strength of the ensemble and creating an intimate theatrical experience. Custom Made is a member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), National New Play Network (Associate member, NNPN) and Theatre Bay Area (TBA). Recipient of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Paine Knickerbocker Award for making a lasting contribution to Bay Area theatre.