Helene Weigel (1900 - 1971) was one of the outstanding German actors of her generation. Born in Vienna in 1900, the daughter of a Jewish lawyer, she became a Communist Party member from 1930 and Artistic Director of The Berliner Ensemble after her husband Bertholt Brecht's death in 1956. Among the Brecht roles she is most noted for creating are: Pelagea Vlassova, The Mother of 1932, Antigone in Brecht's version of the Greek Tragedy, the title role in his Civil War play Se┼łora Carrar's Rifles and, most famously, the iconic Mother Courage.
Between 1933 and 1947, as a refugee from Hitler's Germany, she was seldom able to pursue her acting craft - even during the family's six-year stint in Los Angeles. It was only with the foundation of The Berliner Ensemble in the DDR in 1949 that the brilliance of Brecht's theatre and practitioners began to be recognised worldwide. Still at the helm of the company, Helene Weigel died in 1971, though many of the roles that she created with Brecht are still in the theatre's repertoire today.