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Bertolt Brecht

The Caucasian Chalk Circle 14

'Things should belong to those 
who do well by them,
Children to motherly women 
that they may thrive...'

The Caucasian Chalk Circle is one of Bertolt Brecht’s best-known plays, it was premiered in 1954 in Berlin. It is where Brecht’s concept of “epic theatre”, a fundamental feature of his dramaturgy, is most clearly demonstrated. The play is inspired by an ancient Chinese legend and King Solomon's parable in the Bible, in both of which women are subjected to what seems a cruel ritual motherhood test.

Brecht sets the plot in civil-war-torn Georgia, where the country’s governor, Georgi Abasvili, is assassinated in a coup staged by the Prince, while the city is set ablaze. Natella, the governor’s fleeing wife abandons her young son, who is taken in by the kind-hearted maid Grusha Vachnadze. From then on, she raises him as her own child, taking on all kinds of hardship and even breaking her beau Simon Chachava’s heart. However, the governor’s wife returns after the war to reclaim her biological child. The solution to this seemingly unsolvable dilemma is left to Azdak, the judge of the community, who tries to adjudicate in the dispute between the two women using an ancient test known as the “Caucasian chalk circle”.

Is tender love stronger than blood ties? Can justice be done between two kinds of maternal hearts? Brecht's popular play seeks answers to these painful moral questions.

“Any war, any loss can only be repaired by kindness”, says production director Avtandil Varsimashvili.

The use of Gábor Garai's translation was authorized by the UMPA Agency.

07 January 2023

Thursday, 14 March 07:00 p.m.

Gobbi Hilda Stage

Hungary • National Theatre, Budapest

Performed in Hungarian. On MITEM with English subtitles