The Subversive Theatre Collective:

2002-2017: Now in Year #14 of our Kamikaze Journey!
Subversive Theatre: Where pissing you off is only the beginning

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   "I used to think that state aid to the theatre was the solution.  There should be state aid, of course, but I've grown frightened of people who hold the money.
   Bureaucrats are dangerous in any art, in any land.  It would be fine if government would put in the money and then go mind its business.  But it won't." 

-Lillian Hellman
1962
Click below for more info...
-- About the Author
-- About this Play's Production History
-- Cast Bios & Headshots
-- Crew Bios & Headshots
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MEDIA COVERAGE:
-- Buffalo News Blog Review
 

RELATED INFORMATION:
-- Director's Notes
-- About the Buffalo "infringement" Festival
-- Visit the website of Buffalo "infringement" Festival

Production Photographs of

THE MOTHER
     Scroll down to see pictures of several different performances of our production as both the cast and audience bring Brecht's play to life.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ON THE READY
    Before each performance, the cast gathers for warm ups.  Pictured left: the cast forms a circle and starts off with a series of stretching exercises.
    Starting from down right and proceeding clockwise around the circle we see: Lawrence Rowswell*, Jason E. Robinson, Bekki Sliwa, Assistant Director Bob Van Valin, babushka-clad Rebecca Ward, Andrew Kottler, Tim Stuff, Colleen Neumann, Sean Marciniak, John Kehoe, and the right arm of John Jacoby.

THE AMBIANCE-MAKERS
Also getting on the ready is our two-man team of our bohemian found-sound musicians with their indefatiguable arsenal of inventive instruments perched atop the booth.  In the fort below, the Stage Manager Laura Mooney (and her majestic gams!) makes some final checks on the lighting board. 

 

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
    Ushering the audience in, we start off bringing everyone into the circle for a rousing game of ball toss.  Note the trepidacious looks in the eyes of audience members as they wonder what else is in store for them!

WELCOME TO THE MACHINE
For the next step of drawing the audience into our story, the actors work with the audience to form a massive group machine.  One particularly daring patron lays down on the floor to embody their cog in the mechanism.  At left, two audience members -- local playwright Anna Kay France and Reporter Mike Desmond -- good-naturedly move to join into the mix.

 

THE MOTHER SMELLS TROUBLE
    Wrapping up our introductory games, we move onto Scene One of Brecht's play where the titular Mother (Rebecca Ward, right) stirs her soup and worries about what her son Pavel (Andrew Kottler, left) is up to with his suspicious friends.
    At left, Masha (Bekki Sliwa, center) and Anton (Tim Stuff, center left) show Pavel how to use their printing press (embodied by a cooperative audience member, in this case Subversive Theatre's Resident Director Virginia Brannon*) to churn out Bolshevik leaflets.
    Other helpful audience members hold aloft the curtains above left.

POLICE RAID!
The Chief of Police (John Kehoe, center right) questions Bolshevik agitator Masha Khalatova (Bekki Sliwa, center left) as both his actor deputies and his audience volunteer deputies search the house with hoaky plastic bobby hats and wooden dowels serving as rifles.
Audience volunteers also play the room's sofa at far left and the sides of the window above left (including Montreal Infringement Festival Founder Ethan Cox -- the guy in the straw hat).

 

FACTORY YARD DEBATE
    Like all good Brecht plays, it's not long before we find ourselves in a factory.
    In Scene Two, the Mother finds herself caught in the middle of factory politics.  Pictured left: we see the prototypical concession-minded workers' representative Alexei Michailovich Kharpov (Colleen Neumann*, standing on block at center) urging the proletarians to accept a pay cut.
    Our cast intermingles with audience volunteers (the ones wearing hard hats, including wild & crazy Joe Siracusa -- creator of one-man show I AM HAMLET -- at far left) to form the workforce of the Suklinov Factory.

RABBLE-ROUSING
Sick of Kharpov's talk of concessions, our Bolshevik cell organizer Anton (Tim Stuff, far left) leads his fellow reds in a recitation of Brecht's song "The Patches and the Coat" while weaving through the crowd urging the workers to go on strike!

 
MARXISM 101
    Returning from the factory for Scene Three, the Mother (Rebecca Ward, seated center) gets her first introduction to Marxist philosophy -- with the explanation of the difference between owning a factory and owning a table -- from her son Pavel (Andrew Kottler, seated right) and his friendly neighborhood gang of Bolshevik agitators -- Ivan Vessovchikov (John Jacoby, standing left), Masha Khalatova (Bekki Sliwa, seated far right), and Cell Leader Anton (Tim Stuff, seated left).
    The audience is stunned not to be playing any parts in this picture.

TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS!
Next stop on the Mother's evolution to super-Bolshevik, we join her as she demonstrates with the workers on the streets of Tver, Russia on May Day 1905.
In our rendition, the actors hand out pickets signs to the audience and urge them to join in the protest.  Pictured right we see Kharpov (Colleen Neumann*, center right) holding aloft the red flag at the head of the protest.  Actors and audience volunteers alike make up the crowd.

 
THE DEFENDERS OF PRIVILEGE
    What May Day Demonstration would be complete without a column of rifle-totting soldiers?
    Pictured left we see the Chief of Police (John Kehoe, above center) barking orders at his squadron of deputies including actors (from right to center -- Jason E. Robinson, Lawrence Rowswell*, and Sean Marciniak) and audience volunteers (from center to left -- Subversive Theatre's Production Manager Rachel Zeller*, Board Member June Chvala*, and some guy I don't know by name) who use wooden dowels to symbolically represent rifles.

THE OPPRESSORS BULLETS
Ending much the way so many May Day Demonstrations have ended throughout history, Kharpov (Colleen Neumann*, lying on floor at center right) falls to the ground shot dead by the soldiers as Bolshevik agitators Anton (Tim Stuff, right) and Ivan (John Jacoby, center) rush to his side.  Audience volunteers make up the phalanx of demonstrators in the background.

THE BATON IS PASSED
    With Kharpov (Colleen Neumann*, on the floor at left) lying dead at her feet, The Mother (Rebecca Ward, center) dramatically takes up the red flag . . . much to the surprise of her son Pavel (Andrew Kottler, right).
    Actors and audience alike make up the gang of soldiers in the background. 

SAFE HOUSE . . . SORT OF.
    Now on the run from the authorities, Ivan Vessovchikov (John Jacoby, left) takes The Mother (Rebecca Ward, seated center) to stay in the house of his curmudgeonly -- and fiercely anti-Bolshevik -- brother Nicholai (Lawrence Rowswell*, right), a very middle class teacher.
Nicholai agrees to take The Mother in on one condition: "No talk of politics."  How long The Mother will be able to stick to that agreement?

THE TEACHER LEARNS FROM THE STUDENT
    Settling in to her new accommodations, the Mother (Rebecca Ward, far left) cons Nicholai (Lawrence Rowswell*, left) into teaching her would-be Bolshevik recruits (seated from center to right -- Jason E. Robinson, Colleen Neumann, and John Kehoe) how to read.
    An audience volunteer (Montreal Infringement Festival Founder Donovan King) serves as the teacher's easel holding up the chalkboard at center.

VISITING HOURS
    In Scene Eight, the Mother (Rebecca Ward, up center) goes to visit her son Pavel (Andrew Kottler, down center) to get the names of his radical contacts in the countryside.  A nosey prison guard (Bekki Sliwa, center right) forces them to talk in code.
Audience volunteers link arms to form the wall that divides mother and son (including our Director's Brother, Franz Schneiderman, the red-shirted wall-component at center).

STRIKERS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
    Onto Scene 9, the Mother (Rebecca Ward, left) talks with the not-so-bright countryside strike leader Yegor Lushin (straw hat-wearing Sean Marciniak, far left) about their struggle against the Smirnov Estate.
    Lushin explains that their strike will fail if the Butcher at the Smirnov Estate continues to feed the thugs hired to break to strike.
    Actors and audience volunteers once again make up the gang of pickets upstage. 

STRIKE-BREAKERS SUCK!
    Undaunted, The Mother (Rebecca Ward, seated left) tromps on to the Smirnov Estate where she meets two insufferable strike-breakers (Colleen Neumann*, standing right and Tim Stuff, seated right) and the Butcher's less-than-cooperative wife (Bekki Sliwa, standing left).

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
    Ever on the ready with her polemics, The Mother (Rebecca Ward, seated right) at last gets the chance to try and win the Butcher (John Kehoe, standing left) to her cause.
    Bringing all she has learned through the course of her travails to bear, she starts off her pitch with: "...let's talk about the difference between owning a factory and owning a table." 

THE BEARERS OF BAD NEWS
    The Mother (Rebecca Ward, center) is joined by her comrades Anton (Tim Stuff, right), Ivan (John Jacoby, center right) and Masha (Bekki Sliwa, left) who deliver the terrible news that her son Pavel has been executed by the Czar.
Nicholai Vessovchikov (Lawrence Rowswell*, far left) watches in disbelief.  Yet another cooperative audience member embodies The Mother's printing press at right.

ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
    Returning to the house of Nicholai Vessovchikov (Lawrence Rowswell*, up left) for Scene 11, the Mother (Rebecca Ward, far right) stares down Bible-thumping Landlady Vera Stephanovna (babushka-clad Sean Marciniak, center right) as Tatiana Sigorskaya (Colleen Neumann, far left) reaches for the Holy Bible (embodied by oh-so pious-looking Jason E. Robinson!).

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF NICHOLAI
    And -- surprise, surprise -- cynical old Nicholai (Lawrence Rowswell*, far left) at last sees the light and joins the ranks of The Mother (Rebecca Ward, center left) and her band of revolutionaries.
    Meanwhile, Tatiana (Colleen Neumann*, center), Ivan (John Jacoby, center right), Anton (Tim Stuff, right), and Masha (Bekki Sliwa, far right) get back to work cranking out leaflets on our audience volunteer printing press. 

THE RED FLAG FLIES HERE
    For the play's grand finale, the cast once again leads the audience in a mass demonstration, this time as the workers prepare for the Revolution of 1917.  Now proudly leading the march with the red flag in hand, the Mother (Rebecca Ward, right) turns to explain to the crowd the reasons for her transformation from a scared, uneducated woman into a truculent revolutionary leader.
    Actors and audience members make up the circle of demonstrator (actor Jason E. Robinson frames the picture at far left).

REVOLUTION NOW!
Our daring ensemble gathers to deliver the play's closing revolutionary invective: "...and never will be changed into TODAY!"
The cast from left to right:
Sean Marciniak, John Jacoby, Bekki Sliwa, Andrew Kottler, Rebecca Ward, Colleen Neumann*, Tim Stuff, John Kehoe, Lawrence Rowswell*, and Jason E. Robinson.

 

* = indicates members of the Subversive Theatre Collective

Photography by Kurt Schneiderman.

Copyright (c) 2002-13, Subversive Theatre Collective.  All rights reserved.