THE WOOSTER GROUP: The Mother
The Wooster Group, an ensemble theater company, is creating a new stage work based on Bertolt Brecht’s play The Mother. The piece is directed by Elizabeth LeCompte with an original score by composer Amir ElSaffar. The Mother, written in 1931 during the rise of fascism in Germany, traces the path of one woman’s journey from illiteracy to revolutionary action. Over the course of the play, the mother becomes an emblem of social and political transformation. With ElSaffar, we aim to create a new music-theater work that interprets Brecht’s revolutionary play through the lens of the contemporary moment.
The Wooster Group is an artist-led ensemble. We both devise work from non-traditional sources and stage classic theater scripts. Our work is known for its innovative use of lighting, sound, music, and video. Over the years, we have collaborated with many composers, including John Lurie, Butch Morris, David Linton, Bruce Odland, and Omar Zubair.
The full Group ensemble participates in the development of new work. Our collaborative process thrives on inclusive openness to new artists who come to us driven by a strong personal impetus. Our process, in turn, empowers these diverse artistic voices.
Group members have received numerous awards and honors. Director Elizabeth LeCompte is a Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize recipient, and has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, the Chevalier des Artes et Lettres from the French Cultural Ministry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United States Artists Fellowship, and a NEA Distinguished Artists Fellowship for Lifetime Achievement in American Theater. The Group and its members have won nine Obie Awards, six Bessie Awards, the National Endowment for the Arts Ongoing Ensembles Grant, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Leading for the Future grant.
Composer Amir ElSaffar has been described as “uniquely poised to reconcile jazz and Arabic music,” (the Wire) and “one of the most promising figures in jazz today” (Chicago Tribune). ElSaffar is an expert trumpeter with a classical background, while conversant in the language of contemporary jazz. He has created techniques to play microtones and ornaments idiomatic to Arabic music that are not typically heard on the trumpet. He is a purveyor of the centuries old, now endangered, Iraqi maqam musical tradition. ElSaffar has received commissions to compose for traditional Middle Eastern ensembles, chamber orchestras, string quartets, and contemporary music ensembles, as well as dance troupes. He has received commissions from the MAP Fund, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), Newport Jazz Festival, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chamber Music America, Jazz Institute of Chicago, and was a composer-in-residence at the Royaumont Foundation in France 2017-2019. This is ElSaffar’s first commission for the creation of a score for a theater work.
The new production of The Mother will be presented at The Performing Garage in New York City in the fall of 2020. It will be performed on tour nationally and internationally in the 2020-21 season.
Start and End Dates
09/01/2020 — 03/31/2021
New York, New York