Envisioning Identities - Political and Theatrical Innovations in Caryl Churchill"s Top Girls
Caryl Churchill modifies and expands the theatrical influences of her time in the context of modem British theatre and in the context of the socialist feminist ideology that informs her work. Although Churchill is influenced by the socio-political climate of Britain, her personal politics have developed through her individual experiences as a wife and a mother, as a woman. That is the reason Churchill tries to integrate socialism with feminism in her work. This paper offers a close reading of Churchill"s best-known play, Top Girls (1982), detailing the thematic concerns of the work and the development of her dramatic craft. In this play, Churchill examines political structures through a conscious evaluation of traditional theatre structure. In particular, Churchill fmds Brechtian epic theatre"s politics invaluable to her socialist feminist dramaturgy. Detailed analysis of the work enables us to determine the extent to which Churchill applies epic techniques to a politics that incorporates concerns of gender and class. Churchill continues and extends her interests, including issues of patriarchy, social structure, and economic changes in Top Girls. In terms of theatrical innovations of the work, she has tried to develop a unique adaptation of theatrical conventions. Churchill builds up theatrical techniques from both Brechtian epic theatre and personal areas of theatre, reshapes traditional devices, and melds them into an original style. She uses Brechtian historicization to analyze the relationship between women at different social positions through history. Moreover, by using a double-casting device, Churchill examines the different class consciousness and conflicts that characterize women in different moments of capitalism. Through the study of Churchill"s feminist vision and theatrical innovations, this paper finally intends to explore the interdependence of the political and theatrical in Churchill"s new grammar of discussing, viewing, and writing plays.
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