Northern Illinois University

School of Theatre and Dance

The Caucasion Chalk Circle

by Bertolt Brecht

Written in 1944 by German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht, but partially based on an ancient Chinese play, The Caucasian Chalk Circle explores personal courage in the face of political injustice.

The plot contains a play within a play. It opens on a post-World War II Europe, in which two rural villages disagree over how to best restore their land after the devastating conflict. When they finally come to an agreement, a singer announces a play to celebrate the harmony, ushering in the second plot set a thousand years earlier.

A peasant woman, Grusha, rescues a royal baby from the chaos of a revolution and becomes the epitome of what a good mother should be. After a long journey filled with adventures, Grusha and the baby’s birth mother face each other before a judge in a fight for custody. In a Solomon-like test, the judge draws a circle with chalk to determine the child’s true mother.

Eric Bentley said, “Brecht does not believe in an inner reality, a higher reality or a deeper reality, but simply in reality.”

April 4 - 7, 10 - 14, 2013
O'Connell Theatre