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A Mother

Constance Congdon, adapted from VASSA ZHELEZNOVA by Maxim Gorky, translated by Tanya Chebotarev
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An adaptation of Gorky’s classic black comedy, VASSA ZHELEZNOVA, A MOTHER concerns a family’s stern, penny-pinching matriarch who will do anything for her family.

Production Info

Cast: 9 total (5 female, 4 male)
Full Length Comedy (about 120 minutes)
Multiple Sets
Contemporary Costumes
Categories: , Tags: ,

Press Quotes

“… Dark, invigoratingly sardonic … Constance Congdon’s MOTHER is as uncompromisingly savvy as it is bitingly funny … MOTHER is an exhilarating blend of one of Chekhov’s dysfunctional provincial families run through the wringer of Joe Orton’s iconoclastic comedy. It’s also Maxim Gorky through and through, providing a canny look at Gorky as a dramatic bridge between Chekhov and Brecht. Congdon’s A MOTHER is adapted from Gorky’s play VASSA ZHELEZNOVA … MOTHER [is] as much an enlightening rediscovery as an exciting new play. Vassa, a kind of proto-Mother Courage, is the head of a family one generation removed from serfdom and facing a crisis. The husband with whom she’s built a fairly successful peat-mining and tile-making business is dying upstairs. Without a will, all their possessions will pass to their two sons — the uselessly self-pitying Pavel and the slothful, self-indulgent Semyon, a man who can no longer fit into any of his clothes except pajamas. Congdon’s dialogue is crisp, her Gorky-derived characters captivating and her wit devilishly sharp …” — Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author


  • Constance Congdon

    Constance Congdon has been called "one of the best playwrights our country and our language has ever produced" by playwright Tony Kushner in Kushner's introduction to her collection TALES OF THE LOST FORMICANS AND OTHER PLAYS. In addition to TALES OF THE LOST FORMICANS, which has had more than 200 productions worldwide, Congdon's plays include: CASANOVA, DOG OPERA, NO MERCY, LOSING FATHER'S BODY, LIPS and NATIVE AMERICAN. PARADISE STREET, was produced in Los Angeles and Amherst. Three commissions from the American Conservatory Theater: A MOTHER, starring Olympia Dukakis, a new verse version of THE MISANTHROPE, and a new adaptation of THE IMAGINARY INVALID, were all produced by ACT. Also at ACT: MOONTEL SIX, a commission by the ACT Young Conservatory and subsequently performed at London's National Theatre, followed by another production of the two-act version at San Francisco's ZEUM. THE AUTOMATA PIETÀ, another YC commission, received its world premiere at San Francisco's Magic Theatre in 2002; NIGHTINGALES went to the Theatre Royale Bath's Youth Theatre. Congdon's NO MERCY, and its companion piece, ONE DAY EARLIER, were part of the 2000 season devoted to Congdon at the Profile Theatre. She has written a number of opera libretti and seven plays for the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis. THE CHILDREN OF THE ELVI, Congdon's epic and NOT suitable for children, play received its premiere at the Key City Public Theater in 2007. Congdon's plays have been produced throughout the world, including Cairo, Tokyo and Berlin. Her new verse version of TARTUFFE is in a single-volume Norton Critical edition and in the Norton Anthology of Drama. In 2013, Congdon was the Honored Playwright at the GPTC and had a fully-staged workshop of her play about the water crisis in the West, TAKE ME TO THE RIVER. Her recent play HAIR OF THE DOG is about Shakespeare and Marlowe. Her most recent play, ENEMY SKY, is about drones, Islamaphobia, and late-in-life love. Congdon has received three NEA grants, two Rockefeller grants (one for Bellagio), an Albert Sloan grants for TAKE ME TO THE RIVER, The Berilla Kerr Award, Helen Merrill Award, The Albert Weissberger Award, New York Newsday's Oppenheimer Award for Best New Play in NYC, New England Theater Conference Award for Distinguished Service to the Theater (2004), two Great Plains Theater Conference Awards, one for Distinguished Service to the Theater and the other as the 2013 Honored Playwright. She is an alumnus of New Dramatists, The Playwright's Center of Minneapolis, and a current member of The Dramatists Guild and PEN. Congdon has taught playwriting at the Yale School of Drama, but her home is as playwright-in-residence at Amherst College where she has taught playwriting for 25 years. Her work is published by Norton, TCG, Inc, but mostly by Broadway Play Publishing.

  • Maxim Gorky

    Alexei Maximovich Peshkov, known as Maxim Gorky, was born in 1868 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. A prolific Russian and Soviet writer, a founder of the Socialist realism literary method, and a political activist, Gorky achieved worldwide fame with his realistic depictions of the poor and oppressed. He died under suspicious circumstances in 1936.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 11/30/2004
Pages 96
ISBN 9780881452433

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced by American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
A Mother is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC