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‘Caucasian Chalk Circle’ opens tonight

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Class warfare, a child custody battle and personal courage are just a few of the themes presented in the next staged production of the School of Theatre and Dance at Northern Illinois University.

“The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” written by Bertolt Brecht in 1944, is the sixth Mainstage Series production of the school’s 2012-2013 season.

The show is guest directed by Michael Goldberg, artistic associate at First Folio Theatre in Oak Brook. Last February, he directed “The Ascent of F6” at NIU.

“The Caucasian Chalk Circle” is a play based on the Bible story of King Solomon and the baby. The story is set in 1980s Yugoslavia, when the country was in political and social turmoil.

Amidst the chaos, a young peasant girl named Grusha Vachnadze rescues a baby without knowing the child’s true parents.

Grusha raises the baby as her own and later comes face to face with the baby’s birth mother, Natella, the wife of the governor. A fight for custody before a judge ensues, and it is decided there is only one way to determine who the true mother is: the test of the chalk circle.

Goldberg said one of the main themes of “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” is how the perception of social classes is held by all people, regardless of their position in the social hierarchy.

The upper and lower class structure theme also is evident in the type of music played during the play. The actors perform gypsy music with a folkloric tone, which is contrasted with the percussive pre-recorded music that makes up the rest of the show’s soundtrack.

Goldberg considers “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” a historical piece that shows a very specific part of history that he hopes will bridge the gap between a period drama and the modern lives of audience members.

“The Caucasian Chalk Circle” will run April 4 through 7 and April 10 through 14 in the Stevens Building Players Theatre. Show times are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students. For more information, call the Stevens Building box office at 815-753-1600 or visit www.niu.edu/theatre.

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