The Mother – playing with a play
Artistic company in residence Mahogany Opera Group presents excerpts from and discussion around its project in development, The Mother. The Mother is a wild, impassioned chamber opera adapted from the absurdist play Matka by
influential Polish artist Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (1885-1939), known as Witkacy.
Witkacy was a Polish writer, playwright, poet, painter, photographer, philosopher and art theoretician. He was a visionary ahead of his times, a prankster, whose cutting-edge judgement and catastrophic prophesies continue to resonate with younger generations. Often dismissed by his contemporaries, he developed his own theories on theatre and performance, writing:
“On leaving the theatre, one should feel that he has woken up from some strange dream in which even the commonest of things possessed some strange unfathomed charm characteristic of dreams and incomparable to anything else.”
The Mother places Witkacy’s radical views on theatre within an opera context for the first time. Drawing on his anarchic and surrealist subversion of theatrical norms, Mahogany artists Laurence Osborn (composer), Theo Merz (writer) and Frederic Wake-Walker (director) explode the operatic form, allowing it to have its own existential crisis. Join composer Laurence Osborn, Professor Paul Allain and singer Lindsay Bramley as they discuss the development of this opera, the task of adapting a play for the operatic stage and the influence of Witkacy and Polish theatre on contemporary practice, alongside sung excerpts from the piece.
Laurence Osborn is Composer-in-Association with Nonclassical. His music has been programmed at venues such as the Royal Opera House, LSO St Luke’s and Milton Court, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
Paul Allain is Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Kent. He has written extensively on contemporary Polish theatre, actor training and physical theatre and has led several funded projects, including the British Grotowski Project.
Lindsay Bramley read Music at The Queen’s College, Oxford. Originally trained as a pianist, she started singing at university and since has sung various parts including the title role in The Judgement of Theodora for ENO’s Contemporary Music Studio and Mere d’Iseut in Le Vin Herbé. Recently she has also begun to work as a conductor and librettist.
Mahogany Opera Group is a leading UK opera and music theatre company specialising in new and contemporary work. Mahogany stretches the boundaries of what opera can be and who it is for. The company tours throughout the UK and internationally, bringing together a wide variety of artists.