The chalk circle
Translator: Pierre Deshusses The Chalk Circle is inspired by a work by Li Xingdao. With this play, which premiered in January 1925 at the Stadttheater in Meißen and then simultaneously in more than a hundred German theaters, Klabund was for a few years the most performed German playwright. This did not leave Brecht indifferent, who drew inspiration from it (along with other poems by Klabund) for his Caucasian Chalk Circle (1948). The difference between the two titles already shows the difference in treatment. If Brecht made it a committed and very precisely situated play, with certain aspects that often bother current directors, a double play that is also divided into two parallel narratives whose distinct heroes only meet at the end, Klabund chose to keep the distant and oriental atmosphere to preserve the value of universality. He also transformed the crude figures of the initial canvas to make them ambivalent, contradictory characters who are not fixed in a role. From public girl to public woman, such could be the layout of the first circle of this play. Haïtang is a young girl whom her mother, suddenly widowed, forces herself to sell as a prostitute in a brothel. The first client who is seduced by her charms is a young man named Pao. But the two young people must quickly interrupt their idyll with the arrival of the rich Ma who buys the young girl and makes her his second wife. The young girl encounters many hardships before the circle comes full circle, imposing the text as a symbol not only of justice but also of love and political and private reconciliation.
128 pages | ISBN: 9782914388283