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

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  "The nation's morals are like teeth: the more decayed they are the more it hurts to touch them." 

-George Bernard Shaw

Production History of

THE MOTHER

     Bertolt Brecht's stage version of THE MOTHER is drawn from Maxim Gorky's 1905 Novel of the same title.  Gorky's Novel was based heavily on the actual events of a woman in Tver, Russia who was accidentally drawn into revolutionary activity by her son during the Russian Revolution of 1905.
     For his stage adaptation, Brecht added a number of post-1905 events to the story (most of which we have edited back out for our rendition) taking the character of "The Mother" and her radical travails all the way up to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
     Brecht set out writing THE MOTHER in 1930, completing it in 1931.  This play began what many Brecht scholars refer to as the "Marxist phase" of his writing that would last the rest of his career.  Brecht considered it to be the most radical of his "Lehrstucke" ("learning plays") and proudly proclaimed it to be "a piece of anti-metaphysical, materialist, non-Aristotelian drama."     

     THE MOTHER was first produced at Theatre-am-Schiffbauerdamm (where Brecht's Berliner Ensemble Theatre stands today) in Berlin on January 17, 1932 under the direction of Emil Burri with music by Hanss Eisler.  The debut of the play was deliberately chosen to coincide with the thirteenth anniversary of the death of the German revolutionary leader Rosa Luxemburg.
     The play's premiere came at a time when Hitler's Nazi Party was steadily increasing in power.  During this run of THE MOTHER, Nazi officials actually arrested the actor playing the male lead, Ernst Busch, just to prevent that evening's performance!
     This was the last of Brecht's works to reach production before Hitler banned all performances of his plays in Germany in 1933.

Click below for more info...
-- About the Author
-- About this Play's Production History
-- Cast Bios & Headshots
-- Crew Bios & Headshots
-- Directions to the Theatre
-- Production Photos
-- Return to THE MOTHER Mainpage
 
MEDIA COVERAGE:
-- Buffalo News Blog Review
 

RELATED INFORMATION:
-- Director's Notes
-- About the Buffalo "infringement" Festival
-- Visit the website of Buffalo "infringement" Festival
     Brecht's first opportunity to have his work performed in North America came when the New York City-based Theatre Union agreed to produced THE MOTHER in 1935 (interestingly enough, our theatre's namesake Buffalo actor/playwright Manny Fried was offered the role of the male lead in this production, but had to pass on it so that he could return to Buffalo).  Brecht eagerly traveled to New York to participate in the rehearsal process, but was outraged to discover the Theatre Union had contracted resident playwright Paul Peters to drastically re-write the script!  
     Internal differences within the Theatre Union as well as numerous artistic differences between author and director turned Brecht's American debut into a fiasco.
     Brecht returned to Europe soured against the American theatre scene.  In fact, when he later fled Europe to United States to escape Hitler's invasion of Norway in 1940, Brecht made a point of settling in Los Angeles -- still refusing to have anything to do with New York City!


     Years later after Hitler's demise and Brecht's eventual return to Berlin, THE MOTHER was one of the first of his own plays Brecht chose to stage, directing it personally in 1951 at the Berliner Ensemble Theatre.
     Because of its extremely overt political exhortations -- with explicit calls for Revolution and Communism, it's unabashed attack on exploitation, religion, and war, and its glorification of the Bolshevik Revolution -- THE MOTHER was looked on very favorably by Soviet-style governments enjoying extensive productions in the Eastern Block throughout the Cold War Period.
     Perhaps for the same reasons, the play has been grossly under-produced in the West where theatres chose to focus on Brecht's more politically vague and ideologically less threatening works like MOTHER COURAGE, THE GOOD WOMAN OF SZECHWAN, and THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE.
     Nonetheless, THE MOTHER did enjoy a surprisingly mainstream production at London's prestigious National Theatre in 1986, as well as Bernard Sobel's 1991 Paris rendition, a version by NYC's Irondale Ensemble Project in 1997, and a subsequent Off-Broadway revival in 2002.

     Subversive Theatre first presented THE MOTHER as a staged reading for our annual May Day Series in 2005 under the direction of our Founder & Artistic Director Kurt Schneiderman.  Since that time, Kurt has continued to envision possibilities for a full production of this inspiring work and he is thrilled to at long last have the opportunity to put those ideas into action.

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