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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 16, July 12, 1976.

The New Zealand Drama School Presents:

The New Zealand Drama School Presents:

Bertolt Brecht's The Mother' could not be more opposite. Unashamedly propagandist, The Mother' was written in the early 1930s as a 'Lehrstuck' or learning play to explore the role of women in revolutionary society. The instruction from Lenin 'Without the women there can be no genuine mass movement' is aimed at the actors as well as the audience. By showing Pelagea Vlassova's developing political consciousness. Brecht means us to learn from her example.

To the usual Brechtian 'distancing' or 'alienation devices - slogans, overhead projection use of mime and abstract setting, George Webby has added one other. Instead of one, this production has three women playing the part of Pelagea Vlassova alternatively. This not only stops the audience from identifying too closely with the one character, but emphasises the universal qualities of women in any society.

The Mother' is a powerful piece of theatre. But Brecht's intent is to let his audience become carried away by what they see He wants them to think about it and relate it to their own lives. The audience is not to identify with the characters, but to identify with what they are doing. This production succeeded in making this important distinction.

Aspects of the play had seen a great deal of thought, and the three differing interpretations of the Mother were presented with warmth and humanity. The cast worked well together in a style which suited the collective nature of the production. This was not only a play for instruction, but a skilled professional show.

Unlike "Kennedy's Children', Brecht's play preserves its optimism even in the face of hardship and despair. Pelagea's son is shot, but she is able to put her personal feelings into perspective. She mourns certainly but she does not let her grief cloud her vision or her resolve.

The play also has an earthy humour, emphasised by the use of N.Z. sounding colloquialism. The play takes on an added significance if we realise that many of the events described by it are also paralleled to some degree in our own history; the 1913 Waihi Tragedy, the marches and riots of the 1930s; the illegal printing presses of '51 The difference between these marches and the protest movement of the sixties is that these were matters of economic survival and not seen as ends in themselves.

The Mother' has had a well deserved popularity. It is an excellent play, and people seem genuinely interested in what it has to say. At the moment political theatre in Wellington is thriving. Hopefully the trend will continue.

- Richard Mays