The play Caucasian Chalk Circle was written in 1944 by German playwright, Bertolt Brecht. Set in the Caucasus region (hence the name) at the end of World War II, it follows Grusha, a maid to a wealthy family, and the family’s baby, whom she saved during the war.
But performed by Bozeman production company, Nervous Theatre, it takes on a different tone. For one, it’s shorter. Under normal circumstances, a Brecht play will take three to four hours. Nervous Theatre gets it done in two.
The cast of Caucasian Chalk Circle is also small, with only four actors. Connor Berkompas, a founding member of Nervous Theatre, has three roles in the production: director, artistic director and narrator.
“It's kind of unlike any Brecht that you will ever see, just because of Connor's specific directorial style,” says leading lady Danielle N. Sather. “And encountering all of these different characters played by the same people, that's really intriguing as well.”
It’s also rare for Nervous Theatre actors to use a script. Instead, they’re usually working from intuition and memory. Dylan Whelan, a performer and company founder, says those moments “end up becoming foundational to how the show gets built along the way.”
For those considering going to the production, Whelan has some advice: “I think there's this assumption about theater that you show up, you sit in the dark for two hours, the actors won't look at you and you clap and go home. And that certainly will never be the experience at a Nervous Theater show. So get ready to move and be looked at and take it all in.”
The show will be at The Ellen Theatre on Oct. 7 and 8.
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