Cover Image

Image courtesy of the Caucasian Chalk Circle

Caucasian Chalk Circle Student Production

The NYU Abu Dhabi Theater Program is bringing together students from across the university for its annual mainstage production, the Caucasian Chalk Circle.

Oct 5, 2019

The NYU Abu Dhabi Theater Program is bringing together students from across the university for its annual mainstage production, the Caucasian Chalk Circle. Orlando Pabotoy, NYU New York Affiliate Faculty and Associate Professor of Arts, is directing NYUAD’s ninth fall production.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle – one of modernist German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s most renowned epic plays – is set in Georgia in the Caucasus shortly after World War II. The play revolves around a tale of the struggle of two women over custody of the same child. Based on an adaptation of a Chinese play during the Yuan dynasty, the multicultural play is a spin-off of the Judgement of Solomon, a story from the Hebrew Bible.
As an epic play, the production is unique in terms of its style of presentation. Sooji Kim, Class of 2019 and assistant stage manager, explained why the production is not a conventional musical.
“It’s not originally written with music, but we had a composer who wrote the songs for certain singers’ parts and actors’ poetic lines,” said Kim. “I think the important thing to distinguish between a musical to an epic play is whether the song is a main component to drive the narrative forward. But our play doesn’t necessarily have music to drive the story forward – it’s just one of the supplementary components of the play.”
Michael Leo Kokkat, Class of 2023 and the director's assistant of the play, explained, “With the songs, you get a much better sense of the emotions that the actors are experiencing. That’s why, in my opinion, an epic play is a lot more expressive than a regular classical play.”
The two-and-a-half-hour long play will take place in the Black Box. A distinctive directing choice by Pabotoy, the Black Box production will be different from any other Caucasian Chalk Circle play in theaters as the physical space will seek to interactively communicate with the audience and draw them into the world of the play.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a piece that mainly revolves around conflict and conflict resolution. In essence, it touches on the exploration of parenthood, making sacrifices and questions of justice.
“At the end of the day, Brecht wanted his audience to step out of the theatre and take action from the scenes they witnessed in the play – I think I want the same thing from the audience as Brecht,” said Kim. “I want them to feel the injustice or justice they saw in the play, be moved and project those feelings or ideas toward actual social circumstances to use it as a momentum to take action.”
The crew – consisting of 16 actors, the production team, music directors, stage managers, an accompanist, costume designers, Arts Center staff and the director – are artists who have come together to offer their own interpretations of the play from different backgrounds.
“It’s very meaningful that the student population is very eager about this production, especially when it’s happening during the vacation,” said Kim. “A lot of students are staying to see the production and we appreciate them making the time in their busy schedules.”
“Sold out shows are new to me and it’s really hard to believe,” Jun Lee, Class of 2023 and actor in the production cast crew, admits. “It shows that the NYUAD community cares about art and the theatre plays that are happening around campus. I have nothing else to say but thank you. You really won’t regret it.”
The Caucasian Chalk Circle will be performed in the Black Box from Thursday, Oct. 10 to Saturday, Oct. 12.
Chris Shim is Deputy News Editor. Email him at
gazelle logo