The Mother

The Wooster Group / Bertolt Brecht

About

The Wooster Group returns to REDCAT with a new production of Bertolt Brecht’s 1932 play The Mother. This play was written by Brecht in the style of a “learning play,” intended both to entertain and to incite social change. He used plain language and songs to tell the story of an illiterate Russian woman’s journey to revolutionary action. The Wooster Group’s American translation of The Mother uses the vernacular of early Hollywood gangster movies (one of Brecht’s favorite genres). The production features new music by composer Amir ElSaffar, who works across classical, jazz, and Arabic musical forms. The Mother is The Wooster Group’s first staging of Brecht, and the result is a dialogue between two influential experimental theater methodologies.

The Mother suddenly gains new beauty, poignancy and urgency in [The Wooster Group’s] hands.

Heinz Sichrovsky, Die Krone, Vienna

The Mother is supported by co-production funds from Wiener Festwochen and piece by piece productions. 

Music by Amir ElSaffar commissioned by The Wooster Group with funds from New York State Council on the Arts and New Music USA (made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Howard Gilman Foundation, Anonymous).

Additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Wooster Group wishes to thank the Heirs of Bertolt Brecht.

 

about the artists

The Wooster Group

Founded in 1975, The Wooster Group is an artist-led company that makes experimental work for theater and media. The Group’s work spans multimedia, theatrical, and performance arts. Its pioneering approach combines contemporary, classic, and improvised texts with technology to tell stories in new ways. The Group’s director Elizabeth LeCompte has made more than 40 theater works, 22 media pieces, and one Ribbon Cutting Ceremony (for the new Whitney Museum). These include: Rumstick Road (1977), the dance For the Good Times (1982), L.S.D. (…Just the High Points…) (1984), Brace Up! (1991), the video White Homeland Commando (1992), The Hairy Ape (1996), the film Wrong Guys (1997), House/Lights (1999), To You, the Birdie! (Phèdre) (2002), Hamlet (2006), the 360-degree video installation There Is Still Time..Brother (2007), the opera La Didone (2008), Vieux Carré (2009), The Room (2015), The Town Hall Affair (2017), A Pink Chair (In Place of a Fake Antique) (2018), and The Mother (2021).

Longtime Group member Kate Valk directed Early Shaker Spirituals (2014), The B-Side: Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons (2017), and Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me (2022), all record album interpretations. 

The Group has been included in numerous museum and gallery shows, among them three Whitney Biennials and an exhibition devoted to the Group’s work at carriage trade gallery in 2019-‘20.

Based at The Performing Garage in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, the Group was founded by Elizabeth LeCompte, Spalding Gray, Ron Vawter, Jim Clayburgh, Willem Dafoe, Kate Valk, and Peyton Smith.

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Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht

Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht (February 10, 1898–August 14, 1956), known professionally as Bertolt Brecht, was a German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet. Coming of age during the Weimar Republic, he had his first successes as a playwright in Munich and moved to Berlin in 1924, where he wrote The Threepenny Opera with Kurt Weill and began a lifelong collaboration with the composer Hanns Eisler. Immersed in Marxist thought during this period, he wrote didactic Lehrstücke and became a leading theoretician of epic theatre (which he later preferred to call “dialectical theatre”) and the Verfremdungseffekt.

During the Nazi Germany period, Brecht fled his home country, first to Scandinavia, and during World War II to the United States, where he was surveilled by the FBI. After the war he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Returning to East Berlin after the war, he established the theatre company Berliner Ensemble with his wife and longtime collaborator, actress Helene Weigel.

cast & creative team

Directed by Elizabeth LeCompte

Composed by The Wooster Group

Text by Bertolt Brecht 

Original Music by Hanns Eisler

New Music by Amir ElSaffar

Performances by Jim Fletcher, Ari Fliakos, Erin Mullin, Scott Shepherd, Kate Valk

Sound and Music Arrangement by Eric Sluyter

Video by Irfan Brkovic

Lighting by David Sexton

Translation by The Wooster Group