Throwback Thursday: VUT’s Caucasian Chalk Circle

Over Valentine’s Day weekend 10 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be a part of an incredible production at Vanderbilt University: Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Not many people know (or remember) that I actually spent my first year of college as a Commodore before transferring to Virginia Tech. While my freshman year of college was full of homesickness, trips back to Virginia, and illness, I had some amazing memories, especially of my hallmates and my fellow actors with Vanderbilt University Theatre (VUT).

For those who don’t know, Caucasian Chalk Circle is a parable about a peasant girl (Grusha) who rescues a child (Michael) from his unfit mother (Natella Abashvili). When Natella finds the girl and the child, she wants the child back. A judge (Azdak) decides that, in order to find out who the best mother is, he will allow the two women to pull on the child. The true mother will be able to pull the child from the circle. Grusha, fearing for the child’s safety, cannot go through with hurting him and lets go. This proves that she is the true and fit mother, and Michael is allowed to stay with her.

I loved being a part of this production. Even more so, I was fortunate enough to play the role of Grusha as a freshman, among countless other talented performers. This was a stage full of amazing actors, and I still feel lucky to have been a part of the show. If only we were allowed to tape the production! Instead, during a Facebook “reunion” of sorts as we were remembering the show via a thread on someone’s wall, all of these pictures resurfaced.

 

Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT

Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT

Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT

Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT

Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT

Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT

Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT

Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT

Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT


Caucasian Chalk Circle VUT

The story of The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a particularly touching one about the power of a mother’s love (along with many other subplots and messages, as Brecht does so well). I hope that, 10 years ago, I could play the role of the young mother who was so lost, but so determined to protect her child at all costs. Looking back as a mother myself, I am particularly drawn to the strength that she summoned, time and time again for her baby- never giving up, never stopping, always putting her child first (even when the audience may think her a fool for it). So is the power of being a mother. In my 4 months of motherhood, I can say that I get it.

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