Off-Off-Broadway's Great Jones Repertory celebrates the 100th anniversary of Bertolt Brecht's birth with a revival of his The Caucasian Chalk Circle, May 15 - 31.
Great Jones Repertory consists of: director Andrei Serban, composer Liz Swados, Howard Theis, Jun Maeda, Bill Ruyle, Mia Yoo, George Drance, and Angela Fie, will be presenting Chalk Circle in both theatres of La MaMa's main building in New York's East Village.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle, the last of Brecht's major works , was written while the author was in exile in the U.S. During World War II. Based on the Biblical tale of Solomon and the ancient Chinese play The Circle of Chalk, Brecht's play tells the story of the maid, Grusche. In the wake of a revolution, Grusche raises the child of the governor's wife, who later returns to claim the child. The latter part of the play concerns Azdak, a crude drunk who, through luck, rises to the position of town judge. He ends up presiding over the case of Grusche and the governor's wife and settles the conflict by putting the baby in a circle of chalk to see how each "supposed" mother would pull it out.
Romanian-born Serban was brought to America in 1969, by La MaMa artistic director Ellen Stewart to direct two classical plays -- Ubu Pere and Arden of Faversham for her resident company. Serban quickly gained a reputation for ritualistic theatre with his productions of the OBIE winning Fragments of a Greek Trilogy (with Swados) and The Good Woman of Setzuan in the mid '70s.
Serban has also gained a reputation for reinterpreting the classics like Chekov's The Cherry Orchard at The Public, The King Stag with Julie Taymor and his recent ART production of The Taming of the Shrew (which is slated for the Fall season at LaMaMa). Serban will also be directing Shakespeare's Cymbeline for The New York Shakespeare Festival this summer. Serban and Swados were reuntied at LaMaMa last season with a production of The Trojan Women which not only utilized ritualized performances but was performed in the language of ancient Greece.
Other Swados productions include: Missionaries, Runaways, Nightclub Sonata, Crow with Robbie Anton, The Red Sneaks and Alice in Concert.
Great Jones Repertory's The Caucasian Chalk Circle directed by Andrei Serban with music by Liz Swados plays at La MaMa's main building, May 15-31. For reservations or more information call (212) 475 7710.
-- By Sean McGrath