Paris is besieged by the Germans. Things are not going well. People have been reduced to eating rats. Three citizen soldiers in the National Guard, Papa, Coco and Francois stumble into a café on the rue Pigalle, they are freezing and fed up, fighting for next to no money and with utterly incompetent Generals. They decide to go down to City Hall and give the government a piece of their mind.

In Bordeaux, the French statesman Jules Favre begs the country's new leader Adolphe Thiers for help. Thiers, a member of the one percent is not in the mood to defend Paris. He would rather capitulate to the Germans than risk damage to his precious real estate. Business interests come first.

The siege of Paris is over. The workers decided to keep the heavy artillery in the city rather than return it to the government who they fear will turn it on them. Jean Cabet throws in his lot with the Communards, the National Guardsmen Papa, Coco and his uncle Pierre who are now establishing the occupation of Paris.

The cannon is being guarded by Jean and his friend Francois. Jean is giving him a few tips about how to get girls into bed. It’s making Francois very uncomfortable. Francois in our Commune is actually a woman (in Brecht's play he is a man). During the Paris Commune some women put on the Uniform of the National Guard so that they could fight side by side with the men to defend their neighborhood. They were some of the bravest fighters.

The French government decamped to Versailles and is now trying to bribe the working people of Paris with white bread. “Guns for Bread”, these women are not taken in.

Under cover of darkness French soldiers have infiltrated into the occupied city with the help of government spies. They find Pierre Langevin who has fallen asleep guarding the gun on the Rue Pigalle.

The French government has sent in the army to retrieve the weapons from the working people of Paris. But the woman of the rue Pigalle aren’t going to give up their gun so easily. They don’t need to use force, they have a better idea what to do with these young soldiers. And we see how politics can tear families apart.

Paris is Occupied! The Commune has been declared. The people of the rue Pigalle just got news that two generals who had ordered their troops to fire on the people of Paris have been captured and executed by the Communards who decided to take the law into their own hands. But was that the right thing to do?

Papa, Mme Cabet and Genevieve are waiting outside City Hall where the Commune has just been declared. Papa wants to tell his friend Pierre, a worker delegate, that the French government smuggled many weapons out of the city. The Soldiers are arming against the people’s occupation. Inside City Hall the delegates are trying to figure out how to make this new democracy work. Should the people of the Commune declare civil war or follow the path of non-violence and risk being destroyed?

At the train Station, the wealthy are fleeing Paris with as much money as they can lay their hands on. Jean is trying to stop his friend Phillipe, a baker who is out of work from leaving too. Jean tells him the Commune has declared employees have the right to take over and run an enterprise if is deserted by it's owner, so Phillipe can just take over the Bakery where he used to work. Phillipe just doesn’t get it. Is it right to let the 1% grab all their money and get out? Does it really belong to them? After all many got rich by paying miserable wages.

A block party in the Rue Pigalle. Babette, Genevieve, Francois and their friends are celebrating the new democracy, and the fact that Madame Cabet’s brother in law Pierre Langevin is now one of the delegates of the Commune. It is a moment of true happiness when all the hardship seems worth it.

As the party continues on the Rue Pigalle, things take a darker turn. Langevin knows how hard it is to create a true democracy. Is freedom something that can ever be truly obtained? What about free love? While the celebration is in progress, Phillipe brings news that the French Government under Adolf Thiers is making deals with one Otto von Bismark, chancellor of the German Empire. Together they are arming farm workers from the provinces and putting out all kinds of slanderous stories about the Commune in the media.

The newly elected delegates of the Commune open their first working session. Here we learn the guiding principles of the commune. Do they make sense today? Would you like college education to be open to all, free of charge?

The cardboard faces that the actors wear on their heads are portraits of the real Communards.

Now the people have voted in the Commune, they have to figure out the nuts and bolts of making the city run when all the bureaucrats have left town. Genevieve Guericault, a young teacher and the new delegate for education is struggling to get the classrooms open again. She discovers than when obstacles get in the way it is sometimes better to look for a practical solution than a theoretical answer. Her friends Babette and Phillipe complain that they are making less money than before. Everyone wants a living wage but what happens when there’s not enough money to go around?

We are in the Bank of France. Charles Beslay, delegate to the Commune has come to tell the CEO that the National Guardsmen have to get paid, they have families to feed. Look what happens when the Governor wields bureaucracy as a weapon. Should the Communards have seized the assets of the bank by force? A lot of people have discussed this after the fact. Karl Marx thought the fact that they did not destroy the bastions of Capital by force led to their downfall.

The delegates to the Commune are furious that Charles Beslay was unable to pursued the CEO of the Bank of France to release the money they need to keep Paris running and pay the workers. Should they occupy the bank? Should the Commune march against the forces of the French government in Versailles before the army under Adophe Theirs attacks them? Is force ever justified in the defense of freedom? Or should the Commune stand firm on their commitment to peace? Suddenly The Communards learn that the army has already launched an attack on their city.

The Commuards are working late into the night at City Hall. The National Guard are fighting heroically to defend Paris. They get a message from the German workers in support of their cause. Workers of the World Unite!

During a performance at the Frankfurt Opera House, the forces of Global Capital Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire and Jules Favre a representative of the French Government discuss their plans for the brutal suppression of the Commune. Why do you think Brecht showed Bismarck’s love of high culture at the same time that he revealed his barbarism?

Paris is under attack. A delegation of women come to City Hall to plead with the Communards to do more to defend them. The women say they too will fight at the barricades. But many of the delegates are against militarism. The people’s representatives must decide if they should abandon their principles of non-violence and fight for their freedom. What is the right thing to do? Must one use terror to fight terror? They call out to the peasants who were drafted into the French army to stand with them against the wealthy. But because the bourgeois press vilify their cause, it is impossible to get their message out.

The Commune is under attack. In the Place Pigalle, Genevieve and Babette who is now pregnant, are sewing sandbags for the barricades the people are building to protect the neighborhood. They wish that they could get their ideas across to the peasants who are fighting against them in the French army. A little girl says its easy, tell them, “You are workers the same as us”.

The working class neighborhoods in Paris are being bombarded by the French army. Genevieve has come to fetch Pierre Langevin who is working late at City Hall. He wonders if the Commune’s principles of freedom for all were not too utopian, all to easily exploited by the wealthy for their own ends. Personal freedom should be renounced until universal freedom has been established. Genevieve does not agree.

Two nuns appear in the Place Pigalle. One of them is man in disguise. Genevieve’s fiance, released from prison camp in Germany and now in Paris spying for Adolphe Thiers and his murderous army. Papa knows what he wants to do with the traitor. Should he live or die? Francois says that Genevieve must decide.

It is La Semaine Sanglante (The Bloody Week). The Commune is being destroyed by the French army. Men, woman and children are being massacred in the streets. City Hall is deserted. Genevieve always believed in non-violence but now she and her friends are defending their lives on the barricades. She says that even now they are learning, that the struggle is bigger than just their lives and their world.

From the ramparts of Versailles, members of the bourgeoisie joyfully watch the final destruction of the Commune. Has all been lost or will the struggle for a community based on peace, democracy and social justice live on? What do you think? What can you do?