The Mother is taken from Maxim Maxim Gorky’s 1906 novel of the same name. Steve Gooch provided a new translation for the Half Moon production, which was its first professional production in England.
The production opened at the Half Moon Theatre and then toured to The Roundhouse in July 1973. In the play, Brecht utilizes narrative, irony, the juxtaposition of self-proclaimed ‘truths’ to reveal their flaws, the concretizing of complex ideas into dramatic events, an understanding and simple presentation of human behaviour, and a comedic optimism that things can be changed and that reason and common sense will overcome fear and superstition. Vlassov is Brecht’s entirely positive major character, who endures a long and difficult road to liberation.
Guy Sprung, co-founder and first Artistic Director of Half Moon Theatre, talks about The Mother. Interviewed by Ollie Nesbitt.
I translated Brecht’s The Mother for the theatre, for which I got a Royalty Supplement Guarantee from the Arts Council which – because there was no other funding for the company at all – I shared with the company. It famously transferred to The Roundhouse, but was probably too intimate a production for that vast space. A couple of years later the same script was taken up by Belt & Braces, who performed it quite differently with masks. After speaking to a video of the show at a conference, I was taken to task by John Willett, who’d loved the traditionally Brechtian Half Moon production but hated the broad, popular style of Belt & Braces. He didn’t realise it was exactly the same script, and I’d had no influence over it other than to tell them to trust the script! (Interestingly, exactly the same script played again in Chicago a couple of years ago and won a ‘Jeff’ Award for Best New Adaptation.)
Click here to read the full interview with Steve Gooch.