The Mother, Brecht
Театр на Таганке, Moscow, Russia

"How do you actually write «exploitation»"

Brecht's didactic play "The Mother", premiered in 1932, starts like a communistic fairy tale. To protect her son from imminent danger, Pelagea Vlasova from Tver undertakes his task of distributing illegal leaflets in the factory of the industrialist exploiter Suhlinov. Full of naivety she gets to know the communistic movement and its principles as something reasonable and begins to understand that the people whom she had previously suspected to be a criminal threat to public order, and from whom she wanted to protect her son, are actually fighting for the interests of the exploited working men. As the play progresses Pelagea Vlasova becomes an icon of the revolutionary movement – and by that also earns the respect of her son, whose affection she seemed to have long time lost. But it is also the struggle for communism, which finally takes her son away from her forever. Pavel is shot during a revolutionary mission in Finland.

The play ends with an image of Pelagea Vlasova, who is heroically leading a demonstration, in spite of all of her personal losses, with a red flag in her hands. And yet the text arouses questions: what kind of future is Vlasova heading towards? Will the movement prove itself worthy of the son's sacrifice? Is it still the love to her son, which keeps Pelagea Vlasova going, or is it already the hatred towards his murderers that became her main motivation? Can ideology replace a beloved son?

Like the earlier didactic plays Brecht's "The Mother" shows a conflict between ideology and individual needs. This material can be used not only to investigate Russia's revolutionary past, it also allows us to formulate questions regarding our present.

starring: Irina Lindt, Аleksandr Metelkin, Constantin Lubimov, Roman Staburov, Elizaveta Vysozkaja, Mikhail Lukin

translation: Ekaterina Raykova-Merz