Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz
First Slovenian production
Adaptation by creators of the performance
21 May 2021
Witkiewicz’s play The Mother, whose main protagonist is a young intellectual Leon fervently committed to the struggle for his ethical social ideal, tells the story of the fate of the young educated idealist and in the broad social structure and its mechanisms, and, also the story of extreme intimacy of the individual, torn between an ideological struggle, everyday realpolitik economic reality and his personal emotionality.
The main narrative line of the text is the relationship between a mother, Yanina Węgorzewska, and her thirty-year-old son Leon. Paradoxically, Leon, who seeks his own social affirmation through critical theoretical engagement with a revolutionary charge, is emotionally and economically completely dependent on his sickly and aging mother. She maintains an economic subsistence minimum for both despite her miserable psychophysical condition by knitting and selling fabrics, until she finally goes blind. Leon’s social engagement ends in the fashion reminiscent of Cankar’s character Jerman. He feels futile, misunderstood and rejected. Soon after his mother’s loss of eyesight, he turns to another extreme – the escapist nihilism of the lowest social stratum. The mother eventually dies from an overdose of cocaine provided by her son.
Witkiewicz’s ideal dramatic hero is a prototypical antihero, seeking inner peace in the chaos of his own delusions, and trying to find an answer to the question of the fundamental nonsense of being, which, according to the author, is also an essential question of all being and what makes man exist. Leon, who is primarily a means by which the author conveys his problem vision of the world, aims his holistic psychophysical engagement against the processes of social automation and universal social uniformity brought about by the established social development.
The hopelessness of many young Leons of today, their humanist appeals for an ethical world order that resonate feebly in the ears of global capitalists, and the sacrifices made by the older generations for the subsistence minimum of the young, are no longer catastrophic surrealistic excursions in search of new art forms. On the contrary, they appear distinctly more realist than in the time when the play was first written.
A poem What comes next? from Miha Avanzo is used in the performance.