The Caucasian Chalk Circle
June 30, 2011
The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht
Performances on October 28 & 29 and November 3, 4 & 5 at 7:30pm.
Director: Associate Professor Stephen Weeks
Composer & Music Director: Chris Hubbard
Scene & Costume Designer:
Associate Professor Michael Olich
Properties Designer: Senior Kaye Blankenship
Staff Technical Director Matthew Robins
Bertolt Brecht is considered one of the greatest and most innovative playwrights of the 20th century, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle is one of his masterpieces. “Caucasian” in the title refers to the Caucasus Mountains and the Caucasus region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The area is at the border of Asia and Europe. It is the setting for an ancient tale of justice: the test of the chalk circle.
Brecht wrote his play between 1941-1944 while he was in exile from Nazi Germany in America. He wrote a prologue for his play set at the end of World War II that asks questions about fairness and justice at the dawn of a new world order. The ancient tale of the chalk circle, the play-within-the-play, then reflects on, and tries to answer, some of those questions. Our production has a different starting point. It begins in the present day and takes its cue from the recent events in the Middle East – those upheavals referred to as the “Arab Spring.” From there, the production moves back in time to the ancient land of the Caucasus. Brecht’s animating questions – What is justice? Who will rule? Will the future bring more fairness and justice than the present? – are exactly the ones we wish to address.
See some rehearsal excerpts here for our new version of the play’s prologue!