On the 11th March 2011, Kings’ School Drama Department took 30 pupils from Years 10 and 11 to see Bertolt Brecht’s morality play ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle ‘at the Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury. This version of the play was written by Frank McGuiness and performed and produced by the Black Eyed Theatre Company.
The story follows Grusha, a servant girl who rescues the baby son of her mistress, the governor’s wife Natella Abashvili, after a coup d’état breaks up their home. Not wanting to leave the child for fear of his life, Grusha travels far and wide to protect the child, and in doing so, makes many personal sacrifices. The judge, Azdak, later has to preside over the claims between the biological mother and Grusha, using the eponymous chalk circle. Who is the strongest to claim the child; she who bore him or she who raised and cared for him.
Seeing such an innovative performance made the text accessible for our students who study the play in Year 10. With a cast of only five actors, playing multiple roles and providing the entire musical accompaniment, an adaptable set and simple use of costume and masks, this was an innovative and creative production of one of Brecht’s finest plays.