The Caucasian Chalk Circle (trans. J. Stern, T. Stern, Auden)

Bertolt Brecht translated by James Stern , Tania Stern and W. H. Auden

DOI: 10.5040/9781408162965.00000022
Scenes: 6. Roles: Male (45) , Female (23) , Neutral (6)

Written in exile in the United States during the Second World War The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a politically charged, much-revived and complex example of Brecht’s epic theatre.

In a prologue set in Soviet Georgia, a narrator-figure called The Singer introduces the story of choice and sacrifice. The servant girl Grusha sacrifices everything she has to look after an abandoned child, even marrying a dying peasant in order to provide for him. But when the boy’s biological mother attempts to reclaim him, the unruly judge Azdak, one of Brecht’s most vivid creations, calls on the ancient tradition of the chalk circle to resolve the dispute. Brecht subverts an ancient Chinese story (echoed in the Judgement of Solomon) into a parable advocating that resources should go to those best able to make use of them.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle was first performed in 1948 by students at Northfield, Minnesota in Eric and Maja Bentley’s translation, and has since become one of his most popular works. A morality masterpiece, the play powerfully demonstrates Brecht's pioneering theatrical techniques.

This version is translated by James and Tania Stern with W. H. Auden.

From The Caucasian Chalk Circle

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Bloomsbury Publishing

Bertolt Brecht translated by James Stern , Tania Stern and W. H. Auden

ISBN: 9780413544506

Series: Student Editions

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