The Department of Speech Communication in Ministry staged four performances of Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasion Chalk Circle in April. Set in fictional “Grusinia” (modeled after Georgia in the Caucasus region), the play examines the lives and motives of two protagonists: Grusha, an impoverished servant who adopts an abandoned child and raises it as her own; and a wily judge, Azdak, whose scales of justice tend to weigh more heavily on the side of the poor. The lives of these two intersect at the culmination of the play, when the noble woman who abandoned her son returns to claim him, and Grusha must stand trial before Azdak, whose ruling will decide the rightful mother of the child.

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Cast members perform for the Seminary community in Scheide Hall.
Photo: Kim Schmidt

One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, Brecht escaped Nazi Germany in 1933. According to director Robert Lanchester, “Brecht’s plays transcend politics and explore universal issues of human import. The Caucasian Chalk Circle demonstrates how goodness and justice operate in a fractured world.” Lanchester, the Seminary’s assistant in speech, adapted the play for the stage. The play featured an original score by alumnus Michael Hegeman (M.Div., 1996; Th.M., 1998; Ph.D., 2006), and a cast and crew of nearly fifty seminarians

The Caucasian Chalk Circle was the seventeenth play produced by the Department of Speech Communication in Ministry. Lanchester selected the work for its “strong message and large cast,” in addition to its theme of adoption. “The act of adoption can be stronger than the bonds of blood, which is important to me both theologically and personally.” According to Lanchester, participating in dramatic performances “helps seminarians develop their speech and increases confidence in public speaking.