Sunday Selections: Top Girls
Welcome to the first installment of Sunday Selections, which was introduced in a recent blog news post. For my first choice in play recommendations, I’m gonna go with my all time favorite play, Top Girls by Caryl Churchill.
In true Churchill style, this play blends realism with nonrealism and with raw emotion, makes the viewer/reader face important questions. The pivotal moment comes when Joyce asks “what good is a female prime minister if it’s [Margaret Thatcher]”. Top Girls serves as a reminder that feminism isn’t about celebrating female patriarchs. You can’t dismantle oppression by becoming the oppressor. Is it good that society is capable of bringing a woman to power? Of course. But liking her just because she’s a woman, regardless of her policies, is no feminist achievement—that’s the point!
This play also shows the complexity of these issues—life isn’t black and white! Marlene is one of the most torn characters ever written and this becomes gradually more clear throughout the play. She is aware of the discrimination she faces but she disregards it; you could even argue that she turns a blind eye to it. This is all so she can achieve power—even if that means hurting other people and destroying the good part of herself.
When I was a child and a teen, I regarded feminism with a sort of naivety. I liked the idea of equality of course, but I also assumed that feminism meant that women should hold positions in corrupt corporations that create discrimination and pain such as low wages, bad working conditions, pollution, and basically inequality all around. (And when I say all around I don’t just mean discrimination against women. I also mean racism, classism, ableism, homophobia and more.) My incorrect assumption of feminism is what made me shy away from it and this play changed that. Regardless of your political beliefs, it’s important to know what feminism really is before you throw around that word.
This is one of the most important and highly regarded plays ever written. Honest, smart, and real. Exactly what theater is meant to be. I highly recommend putting this play on your reading list!
Stay tuned for more weekly recommendations!