By AMANDA KIMBLE
AUSTIN (May 24, 2016) – Hico one act players are mere hours away from a state performance.
Gary Brister, currently in his 13th year of directing One Act Play performances, spoke with The Flash via telephone as the cast and crew prepared to take the stage for a last-minute rehearsal Tuesday.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle will be presented sometime after 7:30 p.m. at the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center, starring a group of Hico High School students.
Written in the 1920s by German modernist Bertolt Brecht, “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” is an example of the playwright’s epic theatre, according to Brister. The director explained the playwright often saw theatre as hard to follow performances that included complicated allusions. Brecht believed theatre should instead directly address issues, making the stories more easily understood.
“Bretch wrote a lot about society and created this idea of epic theatre because he was tired of people going to performances and getting lost in them, not thinking about what was being said,” Brister said.
Along those lines, the local production relies heavily on imagery and shadows and puts musical instruments out in front of the audience.
The story itself is a parable, based on a the Chinese ideal of placing an object desired by two individuals in the center of a chalk circle for opposing sides to fight over until one is the victor, as well as the a biblical tale of King Solomon, who told two women fighting over a baby to simply cut it half.
“In a town in turmoil, a family is ousted out of power and its turned over to another regime,” Brister explained. “The king is executed and the mother just wants to get out, leaving her child, Michael, heir to throne behind.”
In Brecht’s play, a servant girl rescues the child, ultimately becoming a better mother than the queen.
“When the war is over, the queen comes back to the chalk circle to get the child,” Brister said.
While the story was written in the 1920s and is, at times, a complicated tale, Brister said the students didn’t struggle to turn his ideas into a state-qualifying performance.
“Some of these students are very involved in theatre,” he said. “But they’re all very educated, well-rounded students who really enjoyed the experience and took hold of the story very quickly.”
The cast includes Ashyln Underwood, Grayson Holt, Sophie Morrow, John Luna, Scout Flowers, Sara Heinricks, Shelby Polk, Sydney Polk, Mackenze Brister, Madison Ogden, Tarah Moore, Marisol Morales, Jake Irvin, Mikel’ Duderstadt and Jade Aardal. They will take on seven other 2A teams, which are broken up into two sessions of four each.
Crew members are Ty Mingus, Lexie Morales, Karissa Howell, Ruthy Zuniga and Kaylee Roach. Alternates include Ramiro Villeda, Amanda Knowles and Lane Golightly.
Brister chose a post-apocalyptic setting, which works well for play that’s open to interpretation.
“Even though this is a very old story, it plays across decades,” Brister said. “You could take 15 schools and all of them would present it differently, ours is just one interpretation of what the director and cast can do with the show.”