The Mother #1

Footage from a performance of an English-language version of the Bertolt Brecht play "The Mother." This performance appears to be at a smaller theatre, with very minimal set and prop design—many of the setting details are conveyed by the chorus saying the scene's expository text out loud in unison. This tape contains the first four of the play's fourteen scenes.

0:00Copy video clip URL Tape begins with footage of a stage from behind the audience. The image is very shaky with a lot of visual static.

0:19Copy video clip URL Cut to a slightly different angle as people enter through a door to the left of the stage (stage right). They perform a somewhat song: “So hup two three, so hup two three, to the work that we must do. March on in the Workers United Front, for you are a worker too.”

2:35Copy video clip URL The play itself begins. The mother delivers a monologue, with the chorus repeating some of the lines in unison.

5:21Copy video clip URL After a scene change, the mother’s son is now “in the company of revolutionary workers.” She complains about the presence of the workers, and complains about how this won’t pay their rent. One of the workers responds that they’re more interested in her rent than anything else. The police arrive and search the place, which is acted out in slow motion. Although the mother doesn’t think it’s right for the police to come search her home, she also thinks her son “doesn’t do the right thing either.” The brother of one of the workers in the mother’s house was arrested under suspicion of handing out leaflets, so the mother’s son offers to hand out leaflets the next day, reasoning that if the leaflet distribution doesn’t stop it will make the case against the worker’s brother weaker. However, his mother offers to hand out the leaflets instead, so that her son will not be the one at risk.

12:12Copy video clip URL Another scene change: The mother is distributing leaflets at the factory yard during lunch. The leaflets are advocating a strike in response to the planned wage cut. A man gives a speech to the gathered workers, arguing that if they strike and demand fair pay, the factory will shut down and they’ll all be out of work. The rest of the workers are determined to strike, and the mother begins to think that perhaps something does need to be done to fight a reduction in pay. She hands out a leaflet to the man who gave the speech against striking, unintentionally revealing that she is the one handing out leaflets. The police show up and see him with the leaflet and arrest him, despite the mother’s pleas that he is innocent.

17:15Copy video clip URL New scene: Back in the mother’s kitchen, she receives her first lesson in Communism from her son and the other unionized workers. The workers are all impressed by her sly work distributing the leaflets, but she is indignant that she saw people arrested for getting a leaflet from her, and says she had no wish to start a strike. “All I wanted to do was help a human being. Far from helping, I’ve gotten three more arrested.” They educate her about the ideas of ownership in Communism, mainly that the factory does not “own” the factory in the same way that the mother owns her table, because he bought it with money gained from denying the workers the full amount made off the good produced by their labor. When she says that of course he takes some of the money, because it also costs money to run a factory, they point out all the more frivolous personal things he also spends money on. The mother continues to assert that the factory is the owner’s property, to which one of the workers points out that there is an “unusual thing” about his property—it’s worthless without workers—and that the way to show this to the owner is by striking. The mother is slowly turned on her ideas about the strike, but insists that it must be peaceful, and the workers agree. “Mother, I supposed you think the police won’t do anything against a peaceful demonstration…” The tape ends at the end of the scene, as the mother swears that at the very least, when she dies, she will have done nothing violent.



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