Skip to content ↓
Ely College

Ely College

All-round triumph as Ely College delves into Brecht’s ‘Caucasian Chalk Circle’!

On Thursday 7th and Friday 8th March, Needham’s Hall was transformed into a theatre-in-the-round for Ely College’s enthralling production of ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’ by Bertolt Brecht. Both shows brought the audiences to their feet for two unforgettable evenings that celebrated the joy of live and immersive theatre.

The play follows the character, Grusha, a servant girl who rescues baby Micheal during times of war and conflict. Played by Year 10 student Eleanor Wallman, she goes on to be a better mother than the child’s wealthy and contemptible biological parents, but in the final act a decision needs to be made; who will raise ‘the precious child’?


The tightknit ensemble took the audience on a transformative descent into the Brechtian chaos, and just as quickly, raised their hopes and spirits as they witnessed justice prevail. From the very start students interacted with the audience, making them feel as if they were one of the villagers. Guests were asked to hold props and were given delicious produce whilst sides were formed. Brecht’s unique style of ‘a play within a play’ was captivating as were the young actors.


After two large scale musical productions, this was the first time the college as part of Meridian Trust had set their sights on such a challenging play. These young actors were joyously committed – many of whom had not previously performed on such a scale – but took to the stage in an extraordinary & moving epic drama with music, song, demanding physicality, a central love story and an immersive depth not seen before in an Ely College production.


Laura Tod, Teacher of Drama and Director thanked everyone involved in making the show such a success, proud that they had all taken a risk with this relatively unknown play: “We knew the themes would challenge our young cast. I am incredibly proud of all the students involved and how they have engaged with the play in such a mature and thoughtful way. Their willingness to take risks, think outside the box and collaborate with each other has been outstanding. It was amazing to share our project last week with family, friends and the local community.”

This production showcased not only the students’ incredible acting, but also displayed some phenomenal musical talent. A powerful quartet, Catrin Andrews, Leyah Christensen, Annabelle Martinez and Harper Thurow narrated through song, this thrilling and explosive drama. The ensemble doubled up their work, using their skills and talents behind the scenes, creating clever lighting and staging, culminating in yet another high-quality performance.


Escaping via a rope bridge made of moving suitcases, as well as some impressive and imaginative use of props to aid the performance, the use of a handmade puppet for the character of Michael was extremely unique and clever. Director Laura Tod explained how they brought the puppet to life: “We watched some National Theatre tutorials online which helped us understand how to animate the puppet. One of the main things was to be able to move the head freely. This really helped demonstrate that Michael was a curious little boy with a strong attachment to Grusha.”

Principal Simon Warburton commented: “I thought the show was a wonderful experience to watch.  It is a challenging and complex text but our students acted with a confidence and assuredness that truly belied their age and experience.  The company have produced an inspirational togetherness and resilience and have developed longstanding friendships across a range of age groups.  I am very grateful for the wonderful teaching and guidance from all the staff involved with this production.”