This past weekend, Ridley Theatre presented The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht. The show included a diverse ensemble of 31 students from nine different countries, who showcased their talents as they acted, sang, and danced to re-tell the ancient Chinese parable of the chalk circle.
Writing in the 1930s and 1940s, Brecht developed Epic Theatre, which aimed to illuminate social disease and critique sources of global conflict. Brecht believed that, “art is not a mirror with which to reflect reality but a hammer with which to shape it.” This production adopted Brechtian techniques of staging; for example, song was used to propel the narrative forward, characters were played by multiple actors, and stock gestures, known as gestus, were used to clarify character. Moments of suspense and tension were broken by comedy or das spass. In Brecht’s true form, these techniques allowed the actors to become story-tellers instead of re-livers of the character’s experiences, alienating audiences, and allowing them to think critically about the play’s big questions, while being entertained.
Over the past four months, our student actors trained tirelessly to develop proficiency in Brecht’s techniques. They also worked extensively with Kaeja d’Dance to use movement to illustrate moments within the chalk circle story. The students’ focus and dedication resulted in a performance that was captivating, yet thought-provoking.
Although the curtain has closed, the skills fortified from day one of rehearsals will remain with the students as they go on to explore the world of theatre and beyond.
Ridley Theatre would like to thank the members of the Ridley community who came out to see the show! It is with great pleasure that we announce that a total of $733.00 was donated by our theatre patrons, all of which will be put toward the Ridley College Team Syria fund: a resource that will be used to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to live in Niagara. We would also like to thank our patrons for their non-perishable food donations for Community Care.
– Ms. Gillian Fournier, Department of English and Dramatic Arts
For a limited time, you can watch the recorded performance on TigerNet Live!