The Caucasian Chalk Circle
December 20, 2010-January 20, 2011
Seacoast Repertory Theatre
125 Bow Street
Phone Number: (603) 433-4793
Artistic Director: Craig J. Faulkner
Dramaturg: Andrew Bear
“Seacoast Repertory Theatre will reflect and
enhance our community through the shared
experience of live theatre. Our productions and
outreach programs will be inclusive and
accessible and will empower and inspire the
imaginations of both audience and artist.”
About the Play
The story begins with two peasant groups fighting over a valley that had been
abandoned after World War II. The groups decide respectively on an agreement and
want to celebrate. In the midst of their celebration, The Singer agrees to tell the story
of The Chalk Circle… This story revolves around a peasant girl, Grusha, who steals a
child in order to become a more respecting and loving parent than the natural mother.
The Governor’s wife, Natella, leaves her baby behind when she escapes the estate.
Later, Natella attempts to win back Michael to reclaim the Governor’s estates. Simon,
a soldier who follows orders of the Grand Duke, falls in love with Grusha. Although
she loves him as well, Grusha is forced to marry another man in an attempt to save the
baby Michael. However, Azdak annuls the marriage, making it possible for Grusha
and Simon to be together.
Grusha (played by Rachel Green) a servant in the Governor’s
palace, who rescues the Governor’s son Michael.
Simon (played by Ross Geller) a soldier who falls in love with
Azdak (played by Joey Tribiani) an outlandish judge appointed to
rule domestic and political cases.
The Singer (played by Chandler Bing) a narrator who guides the
story of The Chalk Circle.
Natella (played by Phoebe Buffay) the Governor’s wife.
Michael (played by Emma Geller) the Governor’s child who is
being fought over.
Ensemble (played by Monica Geller, Richard Burke, Estelle
Leonard, Sandra Green, Eddie Menuek, Frank Buffay Jr., Kate
Miller, Chip Matthews, Emily Waltham) include supporting
characters throughout the show. Comprised of Ironshirts, Servants,
Carleton College in
Minnesota in 1948.
assisted by the
translation of Eric
professional debut of
Chalk Circle at
Hedgerow Theatre in
1954. Also in 1954,
the Theatre am
Berlin conducted the
About Bertolt Brecht
With political, economic, and social turmoil
coloring the world around him, Bertolt Brecht
developed his own form of politics. Born in
Augsburg, Bavaria, just northwest of Munich,
Brecht was a child in a respectable, middle-class
family. His mother was a Protestant, who read
the Bible to him and taught him about religion.
His father was a managing director at a paper
mill, who was strict and against his love for
theatre. Between 1914-1918, German soldiers
were being killed in the first World War.
Completed in 1918 while attending Munich
University, Brecht’s first complete play was
called Baal. The play involved adultery and
murder. In the same year that Baal was
completed, Brecht was sent to work in the army
hospital on the battlefield at the end of World
War I. In the 1920s, Brecht became a huge
supporter of Marxism. During the same decade,
Brecht moved to Berlin where he worked for the
directors Max Reinhardt and Erwin Piscator. He
also developed the ballad opera Die
Dreigroschenoper in 1928 and the opera
Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny in 1930.
More About Brecht
Brecht was an optimist and a “generous utopian
thinker”. (Mueller) In The Art of Bertolt Brecht,
Weideli explains that the 1930s was a lonely time for
Brecht. Away from family and friends, living in
Denmark and then the United States, the playwright
continued to work on creative pieces to wait for the
theatre world in Germany to become popular once
again. He finished the play The Caucasian Chalk
Circle in 1943, and it was first performed in the United
States at Carleton College at May 1948. Because of
the dysfunctional political systems in Germany, the
arts were not being funded nor appreciated. In an
attempt to publicize his work, Brecht moved to
Denmark and then the United States. In 1949, East
Berlin authorities agreed to provide financial support
for Brecht’s project the Berliner Ensemble. Berliner
Ensemble was a theatre group developed by Brecht
and wife Helene Weigel. It provided opportunities for
students to direct Brecht plays before they have been
premiered. Brecht found the difference between
innovative art and genuine innovations. (Mueller) He
died during London rehearsals for The Caucasian
War in Germany
In 1918, the German monarchy collapsed which
led to the attention to democratic forces. At this
time, Germany was split between Social
Democrats and the German Communist Party.
Throughout World War I, 700,000 German
civilians were killed. The country was in ruins
and needed leadership throughout the 1920s.
Adolf Hitler came to power after his role in the
NSDAP. By 1939, Austria and Czechoslovakia
were under German control. On September 1,
1939, Germany attacked Poland.
This background of warfare was significant to
the arts world and to the specific lifestyle of
Bertolt Brecht; therefore, being the catalyst to
his travels to Denmark and the United States.
Developed in the mid-
1900s by Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels in
Britain. Followers study
society and what motivates
people. The Marxism
values focus on socialism
and the development of
economics in a capitalist
environment. Karl Korsch,
a Marxist theoretician who
had been a Communist
member of the Reichstag,
taught Brecht the values in
the late 1920s.
Berliner Ensemble, 1950
. Berliner Ensemble was a theatre group developed by
Brecht and wife Helene Weigel. It provided
opportunities for students to direct Brecht plays
before they have been premiered.
Note from Andrew
In The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Brecht combines
the themes of love, loss, dispute, and greed.
Through their own misfortunes, his depictions of
human relationships and political turmoil are
realistic in signifying chaos.
1.) How did the timeframe come across to you as the
audience? The decade, most likely 1950s, is not
specified as Brecht, however, is sometime in the
2.) Were you unsure how to react during the court
scenes? The judge was being so unruly, and
humorous, about such serious crimes.
3.) How do you think this imaginative society by
Brecht relates to our society today?
4.) What were the stylistic differences that you saw
from watching The Caucasian Chalk Circle that
differ from other plays you have seen recently.
5.) What would you have changed about the set
6.) Are the historical references that you have
learned about (i.e. World War I and World War II)
relative to Brecht’s direction in The Caucasian
Chalk Circle? How?
Questions for after
"Bertolt Brecht." Brandeis. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.
Brecht, Bertolt, and Eric Bentley. The Caucasian Chalk Circle. New
York: Grove, 1966. Print.
Isherwood, Charles. "Theater Review - 'The Caucasian Chalk Circle'
- At American Conservatory Theater, Brecht’s Test of Devotion -
NYTimes.com." Theater - The New York Times. 30 Nov. 2010. Web. 30
Mueller, Roswitha. Bertolt Brecht and the Theory of Media. Lincoln:
University of Nebraska, 1989. Print.
Theater of War. Dir. John W. Walter. Perf. Meryl Streep and Kevin
Weideli, Walter. The Art of Bertolt Brecht. [New York]: New York UP,
Willett, John. Brecht in Context: Comparative Approaches. London:
Methuen, 1984. Print.
Zhou, Shiyuan. Brecht and the Chinese Theatre: a Theatrical
Dialogue of East and West. 1991. Print.