BRECHT, Bertolt. A Model Book for The Caucasian Chalk Circle / Der kaukasische Kreidekreis. [N.p.], [c.1954].

Click here to be notified by email when another copy becomes available.

[BRECHT, Bertolt].
A Model Book for The Caucasian Chalk Circle / Der kaukasische Kreidekreis.
[N.p.], [N.d].

Oblong 8vo (237 × 200 mm), pp.[48]. 90 original gelatin silver photographs with carbon copy typescript notes pasted in. Tan wrappers; lightly stained and worn, pages lightly toned. Occasional light toning, cockling, and silver-mirroring to prints. Brecht written in pencil on spine, pencil notes in English on first page.

A model book containing photographic documentation and directorial notes for the Berliner Ensemble production of Bertolt Brecht’s last major play Der kaukasische Kreidekreis / The Caucasian Chalk Circle, written during his exile in the United States.

Model books (Modellbücher) were produced by the Berliner Ensemble to document several of Brecht’s plays, they consist of photographs together with an explanatory text and commentary by Brecht and his assistants. Their main intended purpose was to assist with the dissemination of ideas regarding Brecht’s post-1945 methods of staging Epic Theatre. Brecht’s plays were written to be performed in a very particular way, and the model books were intended to act as a guide, and were sent to subsequent directors who wished to stage productions of his work. Brecht put considerable pressure on both outside directors and members of the Berliner Ensemble dramaturgical team to consult the model books, though he insisted that they were not viewed as being a blueprint for staging a production and cautioned against mindless copying, instead suggesting that they be used to encourage reflective and corrective imitation.

The photographs are presented in narrative sequence, and were generally chosen to variously depict instances of gestus, movements, entries and exits, turning points in the narrative, and whether or not set-up changes are appropriate, as well as specific details within a scene. Brecht gave strict instructions on what needed to be photographed beforehand, often insisting they match key words or prompts that were to figure in the commentary.

This production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle toured to Paris the following year, and two weeks after Brecht’s death in 1956 was performed in London. It is now considered to be one of his most celebrated plays, his last masterpiece, and ‘represents Brecht at the height of his powers as a director of a first-rate ensemble’ (Fuegi 199).

Goedhart, G., Bertolt Brecht Porträts, Zurich 1964; Goedhart, G. and Hurwicz, A., Brecht inszeniert Der kaukasische Kreidekreis, Hannover 1964; Brecht, B. and Willet, J., Brecht on Theatre. The development of an aesthetic, London 1964; Willett, J., The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht. A study from eight aspects..., 3rd ed. London 1967; Lyon, J. K., Bertolt Brecht in America, Princeton 1980; Fuegi, J., Bertolt Brecht: Chaos, according to Plan, Cambridge 1987; Thomson, P. and Sacks, G. (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Brecht, Cambridge 1994; Imbrigotta, K., ‘Framing Brecht: Photography and Experiment in the Modellbücher, Arbeitsjournale, and Kriegsfibel’, University of Wisconsin-Madison 2013; Kuhn, T., Silberman, M., Giles, S. (eds.), Brecht on Performance: Messingkauf and Modelbooks, London 2015; Barnett, D., The History of the Berliner Ensemble, Cambridge 2015.


Share this Product