In the years preceding the Russian revolution, a poor woman, Pelagea Vlassova, worries for her son, Pavel. Pavel has fallen in with a bad crowd: a revolutionary group, distributing pamphlets in favor of unionisation. The group has printed 500 pamphlets in Pelagea’s living room, and it’s Pavel’s turn to distribute them. Pelagea - fearing for her son’s safety - offers to distribute the pamphlets on his behalf. As she hands out the pamphlets advocating for a worker strike, Pelagea sees the deplorable conditions of the factory, and comes to realize that the workers she thought were ruffians are right to fight the powers that be. On May Day, Pelagea attends a protest with the workers, and watches her son be arrested. To avoid arrest herself, she is forced into hiding in the home of a schoolmaster, who teaches her how to read, and accidentally refines her views on Marxism. Pelagea then takes up the flag of the worker, and begins to print and deliver pamphlets to farms and factories throughout the countryside, using her warmth and logic to bring both land-owners and laborers to the side of communism and becoming a folk-hero known as “The Mother.”
The most elaborate of Brecht’s Lehrstücke or “learning plays,” this poetic examination of the morality of communism and the fall of capitalism in 20th century Russia was based on Maxim Gorsky’s novel by the same name. Like many of Brecht’s plays, it includes a number of “songs” with no fixed arrangement that can be used or removed at the director’s discretion.
The Mother guide sections