By Ellie Gavin || Managing Editor
This fall, the F&M Players will be doing a production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Written by Bertolt Brecht in 1944 and originally premiered at Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota, The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a complex story that questions what is morally right versus what is lawful, and what truly makes a family.
The show begins with a parable of two groups of peasants arguing over the ownership of a piece of land. One group argues that they should have control over the land because they owned it previously, and therefore it belongs to them. The second group, who happen to be fruit growers, say that they should own the land because they will take care of it better and utilize it more productively by growing and selling produce, thus benefiting the land and the community. This argument over the ownership of the land introduces one of the central themes of the show: whether cherished things, whether they be land or children, belong to those with whom they originated or to those who care for them the most. After the dispute is settled, the townspeople put on a play within a play, which they call “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”.
The townspeople’s play is set in the fictional city of Grusinia, where soon a violent uprising occurs. When the governor is overthrown and killed by angry villagers, his wife flees out of fear of the townspeople’s anger and leaves her young son behind. So that the child will not suffer at the hands of the angry villagers, a palace maid secretly adopts the child to save his life, putting her own life at risk for his safety. Grusha and the child go on a dangerous journey to give the child a better life. As the years go by, Grusha’s relationship with the child develops and she becomes a mother figure to the child. Years later, authorities track down Grusha and the child, attempting to take him away and charge Grusha with kidnapping. Grusha and the child’s biological mother go to court to fight a custody battle over the child, each fighting for the right to call the child their own. It is essentially asking the same question about the child that the peasant groups asked of land in the opening of the show: whether original ownership gives you the right to call something your own, or if years of dedication and sacrifice give you the right to claim ownership.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle will premiere on Thursday, October 27th at 7pm, and run through Sunday, October 30th. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.fandm.edu/box-office.
Ellie Gavin is the Managing Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.