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Top Girls (Student Editions)


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Table of Contents

Chronology (Churchill's life and work, alongside significant political, social and cultural events) Contexts * Historical contexts (women's rights/advancement; Thatcher's Britain) * Theatrical contexts (The Royal Court; Max Stafford Clark; production history; critical responses) * The play today (an interview with David Shirley, director of the play in 2014) Themes * Women and work * Female Genealogy: Mothers and daughters (killing your mother; giving up your daughter); sisters (and sisterhood); 'Herstory'/re-finding women's histories * Women's ability/freedom to occupy multiple/conflicting roles * Women aping masculine behaviour/dress/passing as men * 'Getting away'/freedom/travel/social mobility * Class (individualism vs socialism; economic/social mobility; materialism vs human compassion; 'successful' women ignoring the plight of less fortunate women) Dramatic Technique * Language * Structure * Characterisation/multi-roling Academic Debate (including suggestions for further reading) Related Work Play Text (with on-page glossing/notes) Glossary of Dramatic Terms

Promotional Information

Top Girls questions the notions of 'success' when it comes to women's identities and priorities, and offers a striking look at the society and politics of the 1980s, dominated by the presence of the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the effects on everyday lives and, in particular, the lives of women.

About the Author

Caryl Churchill is an award-winning playwright, whose plays are renowned for their striking influence upon contemporary British theatre practices. Indicative of her enduring impression upon the theatrical landscape, Churchill has won Obie Awards for her widely celebrated plays Cloud 9 (1979), Top Girls (1982), Serious Money (1987) and A Number (2002). Further cementing her reputation as an outstanding playwright, in 2002 Churchill won an Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement and in 2010 was placed in the American Theatre Hall of Fame. She continues to produce innovative and provocative work, such as Seven Jewish Children - a play for Gaza (2009) and Love and Information (2012), and in January 2016 her latest full-length play, Escaped Alone, opened at the Royal Court Theatre to great acclaim. With an illustrious theatre career that transcends four decades, Caryl Churchill is arguably more than just one of Britain's most revered female playwrights; she is one of Britain's most respected and groundbreaking working today. Sophie Bush is the Course Leader for the BA Performance for Stage and Screen on which she teaches across a range of modules designed to develop performance practice, research and study skills. Broadly speaking, her research and teaching interests lie in the history, practice and politics of contemporary British theatre. To date, her focus has been on the careers of female playwrights from the late 1970s to the present day. Her publications include The Theatre of Timberlake Wertenbaker (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2013); My Mother Said I Never Should GCSE Student Edition (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2016) and My Mother Said I Never Should GCSE Student Guide (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2016).


Top Girls has a combination of directness and complexity, which keeps you both emotionally and intellectually alert. You can smell life, and at the same time, feel locked in an argument with an agile and passionate mind. -- John Peter * Sunday Times *
The work builds to a superb emotion-draining climax that sent me out of the theatre convinced that this is the best British play ever from a woman dramatist -- Michael Billington * Guardian *
[Churchill's] play is brilliantly conceived with considerable wit to illuminate the underlying deep human seriousness of her theme -- Bryan Robertson * Spectator *

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