Brecht’s classic The Caucasian Chalk Circle to be performed at Michaelhouse

caucasion

PUPILS from Michaelhouse and Treverton will be performing German playwright Bertolt Brecht‘s Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse next week.

Directed by William le Cordeur, the play, which can be seen at 7.30 pm on Thursday, March 3 and 2 pm on Friday, March 4, runs for one hour and 45 minutes with no interval.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle was written by Brecht in 1944. This version, however, features an adapted prologue, and is set in post-Apartheid South Africa, as different parties argue over ownership of a piece of land. A play (Brecht’s original) is shown to help with the decision.

The play is told in five scenes, and is really two stories. The first story is about Grusha, a strong-willed peasant girl, and the second is about Azdak, a judge who brings a unique brand of justice to the land.

The first scene tells the story of Grusha’s engagement to a soldier called Simon, and her subsequent rescue of the Governor’s precious baby. The baby is left behind when his mother, the Governor’s wife, chooses to worry about her expensive clothes rather than her child, and she flees when her palace is being burned in an apparent coup.

In the second scene we follow Grusha’s escape to her brother’s farm with the baby Michael, the Governer’s child, who she has rescued or stolen. She has to survive with a baby in a war torn country, all the time fleeing perusing soldiers.

And in the third scene, when she arrives at the farm, she has to survive a pious sister-in-law and spineless brother. She is forced to marry a dying man, who turns out to be healthy, meaning she loses all hope of seeing Simon again.

The fourth scene is about Azdak the judge, an educated but disreputable man who is elected judge by a group of public officials as they strive to make a point about law. And in the fifth scene Azdak and Grusha’s stories come together when he has to judge whether Michael, who is now a five year old boy, is hers or the son of the Governor’s wife. He draws the chalk circle to decide.

The story is set within the story of the land debate, a play within a play. Brecht uses epic theatre techniques, such as distancing the audience from emotional reaction, through song, humour and the sheer size of the play, in order to get the audience to think intellectually about issues and form objective opinions.

If you are interested in theatre, in different forms of live performance and storytelling on a grand scale, be sure to book for this show.

Tickets R50. To book email Angela Jonsson at theatre@michaelhouse.org or call 033 234 1314 weekdays between 8 am and 1 pm.

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