(German: Der kaukasische Kreidekreis) Play by Bertolt Brecht, completed in 1944

Brecht wrote the play when he was living in America, and initially, it was was written for Broadway. It never made it to Broadway, but instead, it was premiered in 1948 by students of the Carlton College, Northfield, Minnesota.
Brecht's source for the play is likely Klabund's Circle of Chalk, which was based on an ancient Chinese play. Brecht adapted the story into parable form and changed the setting to Soviet Union's Georgia, near the end of World War II. The story has several biblical references. Brecht, for example, paralleled Christ's life with the drunken judge Azdak. The Solomon decision in the story is also put in Brecht's famous (Communistic) way: 'whoever can make the best use of resources in order to provide for others deserves to get those resources'.

The Play


Prologue
In the prologue, the story starts about two groups of peasants claiming a valley that was left abandoned by the Germans in the Second World War. A Delegate is arbitrating the dispute but rules in favor of the group that will grow fruit trees. The peasants hold a small party and a Singer agrees to sing them the tale of the Chalk Circle.
The tale tells the story of 2 persons, Gruscha and Azdak. Both stories are tied around a Caucasian city, ruled by the Governor who serves the Duke. The Governor, who has just got a son, Michael, is brutally killed in a coup led by his own brother (The Fat Prince). The Governor's wife flees, leaving Michael behind.

The Story of Gruscha
Gruscha, a maid engaged to a soldier named Simon, is handed Michael after the coup. She hides the kid from the Fat Prince and his soldiers, and flees the city. After risking her own life for Michael she arrives at her brother's house. He allows her to live with him during the Winter.
If Spring arrives, Gruscha's brother arranges a marriage between Gruscha and a dying man. At the reception, the guests discover that the war is over and that the Duke has raised an army and has returned to the city. The 'dying man' miraculously recovers (knowing that he doesn't have to join the army now), and Gruscha is forced to be a good wife to him. One day Simon returns and learns about Gruscha marriage and her 'son' Michael. Soldiers then take Michael away from Gruscha, claiming that he belongs to the Governor's wife. Gruscha follows them back to the city.

The Story of Azdak
At the night of the coup, Azdak saves the life of a man who he recognizes as the Duke. He goes back into town and tells the soldiers he has just saved the Duke's life. The Fat Prince shows up with his nephew, who he wants to make the new judge. After several mock trials, the soldiers choose Azdak to be the new judge.
Azdak's first cases crown him as the 'Judge for the poor people'. After two years, the Duke returns and Azdak is captured by his soldiers. The Duke recognizes Azdak, sets him free and reappoints him as a judge.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle
Azdak takes over the case of Gruscha and the Governor's wife. The Governor's wife claims Michael, because without him she can't take over the Governor's estate. After hearing arguments of Gruscha and what she has done to save the life of the child, he orders a Chalk Circle to be drawn. He places the child in the middle and orders the women that the person who can pull Michael out of the circle gets the child. Gruscha lets go a couple times not wanting to harm the child.
Azdak then gives Michael to Gruscha, orders the governor's wife to leave, confiscates the Governor's estates, makes it a public garden and officially divorces Gruscha, so she can marry Simon. During the dance that follows, Azdak disappears forever.

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