Tag Archives: The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Ridley Theatre presents ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’

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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.

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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.

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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!

Students elevate to new heights in preparation of winter production

Ridley has always been dedicated to opening as many doors for the students as possible. Faculty members design their courses to offer students the chance to experience in practical ways. Whether it be trips to an art museum, cultural experiences or workshops, our students grow both inside the classroom and out. The Drama Department is no exception.

In preparation for their upcoming winter production, drama teachers and directors of the winter production, Ms. Gillian Fournier and Ms. Anna Blagona, reached out to one of Toronto’s best dance companies, Kaeja d’Dance – a company known for its dance education programs. Kaeja d’Dance was brought in to train the cast, teach them improvisational and movement techniques and to choreograph particular scenes of the play. Mere moments into their introduction to Kaeja, the students were captivated by the technique and style of dance.

During their first workshop students began with an exercise in dance expression. They were asked to remain in constant motion as they travelled around the space, pausing only briefly as they connected with another dancer in the room. Allen Kaeja, co-founder of Kaeja d’Dance, then introduced the students to “elevations”, a movement technique that was developed by him and his wife. Students began to learn and practice anchor positions, which allow them to safely lift their partners into the air, regardless of height, weight or strength. Students ended their first workshop, feeling confident with the basics and excited to learn more.

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The cast met in the Mandeville Theatre for the second afternoon workshop. After their warm-up, Allen and one of the Kaeja dancers, Meredith, demonstrated one of the lifts that the students will be utilizing in their performance. It didn’t take long for the students to anchor and lift their partners into the air. Allen enthusiastically moved from partner to partner, ensuring that they were supporting one another properly, and receiving the praise and motivation that would instill confidence in their every move.

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The cast is looking forward to pushing their boundaries as performers and taking risks to fully commit to Brechtian techniques.. To see the cast of The Caucasian Chalk Circle demonstrate their newly acquired elevation skills and shine on stage, be sure to come to one of their performances. The dramatic production is running March 3rd – 5th in the Mandeville Theatre.