Caucasian Chalk Circle

Definition

Theater

  • A play by Bertolt Brecht written between 1943 and1945, premiered in 1948 in Northfield, Minnesota, and first performedin German by the Berliner Ensemble in 1954. It has enjoyed frequentrevivals, including an acclaimed 1962 production by the Royal ShakespeareCompany at the Aldwych Theatre in London. In Britain it has provedthe most popular of Brecht's works with student and amateur groups.

    The play, set in Caucasia in the aftermath of World War II,shows the victory of love and expediency over the law. The plot concernsa group of villagers who decide to take over their valley to growfruit. To justify this, they enact the ancient story of the maid Grusche,who rescues and raises a child deserted by its aristocratic mother.When the real mother demands it back (for legal purposes), Gruschetakes the case before a mysterious judge who applies the 'chalk test'.He decides that the 'true' mother is the one who can pull the childout of the chalk circle, and this turns out to be Grusche. The moralis that just as the child belongs to the woman who will truly cherishit, the valley belongs to the villagers.

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