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Fighting Their Way To The Top

“[Top Girls] is about women’s relationship to power and success in a world built on male dominated power structures,” said Director and Brock University Professor Danielle Wilson.

The 1982 play by Caryl Churchill highlights the contrasts between feminism and capitalism by focusing on Marlene (Helena Ciurciura), a woman who is solely interested in the success of women in the workforce, largely because she herself left her illegitimate child with her sister in order to pursue her own career path.

The play opens with a famous scene upon which Marlene is hosting a dinner party with a group of famous women from history as her guests.

“[That] first scene has six people talking over one another and eating at the same time. That has been one of the most complex and tricky scenes that I’ve ever directed,” said Wilson.

When tasked with directed a mainstage production this year for the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University, Wilson was “interested in tackling a play that was about women and their relation to power and success.”

“I chose the play in 2016 because I thought it was relevant, before the #metoo movement and before all these news stories came out about what’s been happening in the workforce,” she said. “In this past year, [this play] has become even more relevant. Not much has changed 36 years after Top Girls first premiered.”

Top Girls is Wilson’s fifth directorial effort for the mainstage productions for the Department of Dramatic Arts mainstage productions. The last play she directed was House (Daniel MacIvor) which is a one-man play. Top Girls, in contrast, features seven women playing 16 characters, “so there’s a lot more to focus on.”

“My attention is much more divided amongst all of the women and all of the characters. They have taken it on with such determination and enthusiasm […] the roles really offer an excellent challenge for these actors.”

“Churchill has written a play that asks more questions than answers,” said Wilson. “I hope people will continue to think and talk about the play once its over and chew over some of the questions and debates that are presented in the play […] Not much has changed 36 years after Top Girls first premiered.”

Top Girls is presented at the theatre at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts from March 2-11. Ticket information can be found at firstontariopac.ca

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