The Caucasian Chalk Circle comes full circle


Meghan Joyce

Freshman Cole Thompson, junior Halsey Moe (sitting) and senior Charlotte Hughes rehearse a wedding scene from The Caucasion Chalk Circle. “The cast has been absolutely phenomenal,“ Upper School theater director Eric Severson said.

As rehearsals for The Caucasian Chalk Circle come to a close, some things get hectic, while others fall perfectly into place. Time and again the cast performs the same part of the same act, trying to perfect the action or memorize the line that has been escaping them.

They need all the time they can get; after all, there’s not much time left until they perform for live audiences. “It seems like it’s coming up so soon,” junior Mansuda Arora, who plays an innkeeper and an expert, said.

Sophomore cast member Anna Biggs, who plays a musician and a chef, thinks that the audience will enjoy this play, as it will be different from what most people are used to. “It’s not really like anything we’ve ever done before… it’s kind of fun, a new experience,” Biggs said.

The biggest change for the 37 person cast is that there are around 60 parts, so most people have two parts, and in many cases even three.

“Everybody is essentially a different person in each act,” Biggs said.

“Generally people who play multiple characters are the same kind of person in different occupations so it’s not too confusing for anyone,” Arora said.

Unlike most performances, this play will have a musical element to it. Upper School theater director Eric Severson was happy to see Tim Kraack (‘05) return to compose the original music for the play.

“What Tim has mirrored in the music, which I love, is that the musical phrases which [senior Emily Ross, the singer] sings don’t really end… it keeps this energy and this ambiance continuing,” Severson said.

“I have most of my songs memorized,” Ross said. “I really like ‘If You Walked in Golden Shoes,’ and the Act One finale songs.”

Biggs is a musician for part of  the play, so it’s not surprising that one of her favorite parts of the play is how the music works with the unique narration. “It’s going to be cool. We’re going to have people singing all these really weird augmented harmonies, and they’re all in minor and creepy sounding… I think that there’s also going to be digital effects in the background, videos helping to tell the story, which is what Calla [Saunders, sophomore film enthusiast] is doing,” Biggs said.

These uses of video and song are typical methods that Brecht, the original playwright, would use in his performances. “[Brecht] tries to use different mediums to get his point across,” Severson said, “to find another way to engage the audience… that isn’t just the traditional theatrical way of words.”

Severson is most excited to see how the audience feels about the story and how it is staged. For example, “the biological mother is [at the trial], but she’s had no real connection to her child in the way that we’re staging it. Sonja Mischke, who plays the governor’s wife, actually never touches the child until the very end,” Severson said. “It ends in a way that is
fulfilling for the audience, I think, as well as the characters.”

“The cast has been absolutely phenomenal. …They’re a beautiful ensemble and are supporting each other and working really well together,” Severson said.

Performances for The Caucasian Chalk Circle are free and open to the public. Both the Nov. 22 and Nov. 23 performances begin at 7:00 p.m.