Our first production will be Top Girls by Caryl Churchill at the National Theatre.
Caryl Churchill got her start during the British Fringe movement, new experimental theatres and productions that grew in the late 60’s and 70’s with the end of government censorship. Her work also connects with the 2nd wave feminist movement in Britain, emphasizing women working in collaboration, producing theatre without established, patriarchal hierarchical structures. She is known for her work at the Royal Court (where we’ll be seeing salt. on May 25), Joint Stock Company, and Monstrous Regiment (feminist collective).
VUT produced Top Girls in 2014, and the student dramaturg, Shirlene Wang, wrote the following note:
“London-born playwright Caryl Churchill wrote Top Girls in 1982, just as Britain adjusted to its first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher—the nation’s first elected “top girl.” Finally a woman was at the helm—seemingly, a feminist dream come true. But British feminists shuddered at Thatcher’s conservative politics. Churchill’s character Marlene (a close approximation of “Margaret”) sees the world in black and white, populated by winners and losers. “She’s a bit think—a bit funny. She’s not going to make it,” Marlene says of her daughter, a cold assessment with little maternal sympathy.
Influenced by German playwright and theorist Bertolt Brecht, Churchill asks the audience question their assumptions about gender, feminists, and feminism by contrasting the fantastic with the ordinary. The play begins with a feminist fantasy; Marlene celebrates her promotion to a top executive in an employment agency with select “top girls” whom she venerates from fiction and the historical past. Through each character, Churchill contemplates women’s past and continuing struggles to live their life to the fullest and have the same choices as men. But as the celebration progresses, the party begins to unravel. While these women have achieved great things as individuals, have they really changed the world around them and laid a path for other women to follow?”