February 1938: Čapek’s The Mother premieres in Prague

Photo: National Theatre archive

Karel Čapek’s play The Mother, about a woman who does her all to prevent her son dying in war, got its premiere in Prague 85 years ago, on 12 February 1938.

The famous Czech writer’s final play, like the earlier The White Disease, came in response to the rise of Nazism and the threat to democracy in Europe.

The drama was part inspired by Čapek’s wife, the actress Olga Scheinpflugová, and part by a 1937 photograph of a woman kneeling by her son’s corpse during the Spanish Civil War.

The anti-war play contrasts the large-scale deeds of the male world with the fate of a woman who gradually loses her husband and her five sons. One dies during scientific work, the other in a plane and her twins become victims of the civil war.

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