Brecht and Political Theatre: The Mother on Stage by Laura Bradley

By Laura Bradley

This construction heritage of The Mother offers sizeable new insights into Bertolt Brecht's theatre and drama, his impression on political theatre, and the connection among textual content, functionality, and politico-cultural context. because the basically play which Brecht staged within the Weimar Republic, in the course of his exile, and within the GDR, The Mother deals a special chance to match his theatrical perform in contrasting settings and at diversified issues in his occupation. via targeted research of unique archival facts, Bradley indicates how Brecht grew to become way more delicate to his spectators' political opinions and cultural expectancies, even making significant tactical concessions in his 1951 construction on the Berliner Ensemble. those compromises point out that his ''mature'' staging shouldn't be considered as definitive, for it used to be adapted to a distinct and gentle state of affairs. The Mother has appealed strongly to politically dedicated theatre practitioners either in and past Germany. via exploiting the text's favourite hybridity and the interaction among Brecht's ''epic'' and ''dramatic'' parts, administrators have interpreted it in extensively alternative ways. So even though Brecht's 1951 construction stagnated into an affirmative GDR historical past piece, post-Brechtian administrators have used The Mother to advertise their very own political and theatrical issues, from anti-authoritarian theatre to reflections at the legacies of country Socialism. Their ideological and theatrical subversion have helped Brecht's textual content to survive the political method that it got here to uphold.

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The orthography of quotations from Brecht’s manuscripts has been standardized. ’²³ The testimonies of Brecht’s collaborators also offer significant clues about the nature and extent of their respective contributions. ’²⁴ On two separate occasions, Weisenborn himself laid claim to the copper collection scene. ’²⁶ In a subsequent interview with Joseph-Hermann Sauter, Weisenborn stated that Eisler had contributed significantly towards the text, not just the music: Als Dramaturgen schätze ich ihn darum, weil er das tat, was einen guten Dramaturgen ausmacht, er hilft einem bei der Arbeit, er hilft dichten ….

In a complete volte-face, he then recognized that the system could not be changed from within, joined the revolutionaries’ demonstration, and was shot by the police—a solution which portrayed one of the Communists’ arch enemies as a revolutionary martyr. This understandably outraged the KPD, which had adamantly refused to unite with the SPD, even against the Nazis. Accordingly, ‘S. ’⁶⁴ Following these criticisms, Brecht changed the text for the 1933 edition, replacing Karpow at the end of Scene 3 and in Scene 5 with a new character, Smilgin.

Stark and Weisenborn, 72. ⁹⁷ GWA 107. ⁹⁸ BFA, xxiv. 115. ’ Rülicke, 470. , 9 Feb. 1932. 42 From Nizhni-Novgorod to Moabit to other theatres, it needed a set that could be easily dismantled and transported. Neher’s austere aesthetic also matched the economy of the play’s language and setting. ’¹⁰¹ The absence of local colour, in both the set and the costumes, also served Brecht’s aim of using the Russian Revolution as a model for Germany. Yet right- and even left-wing critics perceived these simplifications as evidence that Neher’s aesthetic was primitive.

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