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Carter's Notes

In 1906 Maxim Gorky produced the novel "Mother" about the struggles of the mother of a young revolutionary, and in 1932 Bertolt Brecht adapted the book for the stage. Hanns Eisler (co-author with Theodor Adorno of a classic, if little read, book about film music, Composing for the Films) wrote music for the play, which contains a number of pedagogic songs such as "In Praise of Study" and "In Praise of Communism." Subsequently Eisler ran afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee and was deported.

I joined a group of people asking the question of what to do with these teaching plays about Communism, now that Communism itself was dying as a political reality. Even in 1994 we were aware that the voice of progressivism in this country was also disappearing. We chose to focus on the continuing struggles of working mothers and women in general.

During the development of the play we studied the revolutionaries of our age such as the Black Panthers and the Framingham 8, a group of women incarcerated for killing their abusive partners. And in the end we had a play written by a poet, in which the mother of a revolutionary becomes a better revolutionary than her son.

Hanns Eisler Home Page
International Brecht Society
Hanns Eisler's FBI file
Bertolt Brecht's FBI file

 

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Production Info

Book and Lyrics written by Patricia Spears Jones

Directed by John Edward McGrath

Music by Carter Burwell

Set and Light Design by Paul Clay

Choreography by David Neumann

Video by Myra Paci and Allison Astor

Film by Tony Gerber

Costumes by Kasia Walicka-Maimone

Actors: Ruth Maleczech, Oscar de la Fe Colon, David Neumann, Darryl Theirse, Ching Valdes-Aran

U.S. Premiere 1994, LaMama E.T.C., NYC

Audio Samples

Here are some pieces from the score:

 Title Format Size 
Revolutionary March 1 mp3 0:56
Better Dreams (Vocal) mp3 2:32
Court Dance mp3 2:49
Change the Rules mp3 1:24
Protest March mp3 7:26
Mother's Song (Instrumental) mp3 2:19
Police Dance mp3 2:16
Revolutionary March 3 mp3 1:10
Mother's Song (Vocal) mp3 2:11
Court Dance (remix) mp3 2:56

Revolutionary March 4

mp3 1:24

For an explanation of the columns above, click here.

The vocals on "Better Dreams" are by Julie Queen, and on "Mother's Song" by Ruth Maleczech.

"Protest March" is formally based on Martin Luther King's "March on Washington" speech. The pitch contour of his voice was extracted and used to play bass and clarinet.

 

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Last modified on:
03/13/14 3:26 PM