The Caucasian Chalk Circle

After Bertolt Brecht in a version by Helgard Haug with Theater HORA. Music by Barbara Morgenstern

By Helgard Haug / Theater Hora

‘All right, I’ll do the test once more, to make certain’, says Azdak the judge, before he asks the child to step once more into the chalk circle and calls again on the two mothers to prove which of them is the real one. It is the most familiar scene in the play: a legend, a ‘very old one’. The outcome of the test is also well known, with the child going to the more ‘motherly’ woman rather than its biological mother. But what if the child is given the choice?
Two mothers put themselves forward and compete for a job, a title, a relationship, a role, an opportunity — but which one should the child choose? The one who has forgotten her own flesh and blood, or the one who has looked at the child too many times to forget him again? The one who can grant the child’s every wish, or the one who barely manages to provide a few drops of milk? The one who is able to get herself to safety, or the one who didn’t know how to help herself and slew a man while on the run? The one who takes care of others, or the one who is used to being taken care of?
And is that it? Are there no other options? Who else is there to choose from? The judge Azdak, who metes out justice even though he has brought an accusation against himself and is really just a village clerk? A lawyer who will do anything to help his client exploit her rights? Armoured riders who risk their lives to do their duty? A soldier in love who doesn’t want to believe that change is possible? Those who want to possess or those who can let go?

And the audience — would that be an option? After all, they are just as present as all the others. Who should the child entrust himself to? Who is a suitable role model?
The artists of Theater HORA bring their own rules with them. New rules have to be invented together. Can this ‘old legend’ be told by performers who will probably never have children and rely on others for their care? Take time to reflect: on having children, on raising children, on losing children. Recollect being a child.

Read an answer as a question. Affix a question mark to a manifesto.
Think what is not said; hear what is only thought. 
Keep going. Clarify what is important enough to try out. And what should not happen under any circumstances. Try out rhythmic motifs and melodic patterns, swap roles, allow the percussionist Minhye Ko and the performers to decide who will play what.
Think about what it is like to flee from home.
Think about what is left behind. Think about how it must feel to be in exile. Think about how a fresh start is an opportunity. Notice how everything changes when one’s gaze settles on it.
See how words fall on fertile ground.

All right, I’ll do the test once more.
With: Remo Beuggert, Robin Gilly, Simone Gisler, Minhye Ko, Tiziana Pagliaro, Simon Stuber
Concept, text version and direction: Helgard Haug
Composition: Barbara Morgenstern
Stage: Laura Knüsel
Video and lighting design, Kinetics: Marc Jungreithmeier
Costumes: Christine Ruynat
Sound design: Rozenn Lièvre
Dramaturgy: Ivna Žic / Marcel Bugiel
Theater Education: Magdalena Neuhaus
Technical Direction: Patrick Tucholski
Production Management: Maitén Arns
Production Management Salzburger Festspiele: Sven Neumann
Production Management Theater HORA: Jörg Schwahlen
General management Theater HORA: Curdin Casut
Touring Management: Louise Stölting
Direction assistant: Clara Bender
Stage assistant: Amrei Fürst
Theater Education final rehearsals: Svenja Koch, Noah Beeler
Production: Salzburger Festspiele, Rimini Apparat, Theater HORA.
Co-production: HAU Hebbel am Ufer*, Theater Winterthur, Staatstheater Mainz / Grenzenlos Kultur Theaterfestival.
*Funded as part of the Alliance of International Production by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

world premiere: August, 12th 2023, Salzburg Festival