Caryl Churchill Essay

Caryl Churchill is the person to mention when pondering upon the playwrights who presented extensive work on topics like abuse of power, sexual politics, and feminism. Churchill won numerous awards and proved to be a prolific writer and playwright. She deconstructed several critical political, social, and philosophical issues many prominent authors tried to tackle for decades.

Churchill was born in 1938 in London. At the age of 10, she and her family immigrated to Canada. Churchill started her academic endeavors at Lady Margaret Hall, the women’s college of the University of Oxford. She received her B.A. in 1960, and at the same time, Churchill wrote several early plays, namely Downstairs, Having a Wonderful Time, and Easy Death (Lotha). During the 1960s and 1970s, Churchill developed her crucial style. It started from the idea of the obsession with power and later proceeded to sexual politics. In 1982 Churchill won her first Obie for Top Girls. When she explored the concept of power in the context of a male-dominant environment and clash with femininity. Churchill’s later works focused on comedies concerning excesses in the financial world and Anglo-American stereotypes (Lotha). During her prolific career as a playwright, Churchill explored essential political, social, and gender themes. Such themes were crucial for the particular period of human history.

When it comes to exploring Churchill’s style, there are several primary insights to offer. From a general standpoint, people envision her as a leading feminist playwright. However, Churchill describes her style as socialist and later applied it to the feminist cause (Greenwald 793). The playwright directs her creative energy toward tackling feminist issues and critiques contemporary society. In terms of methodology, Churchill adopted and later expanded various techniques associated with Brecht. She uses dialectical arguments based on the historiographic approach (Greenwald 793). From a more specific standpoint, it is challenging to tackle Churchill’s plays’ exact style directly. As a creative person and playwright, she often used experimental forms and processes. Perhaps, one can explain such fluidity because Churchill always responded to forms and pressures of particular periods (Angelis). Her plays are revolutionary. However, one of the apparent aspects of her style is associated with Foucault’s concept of docile bodies. Churchill created her spaces to show how particular groups of people turn into obedient wives and workers, a direct product of patriarchal society (Angelis). Therefore, Churchill’s style is hard to comprehend and encapsulate in several words. Her style was dynamic, revolutionary, and significant to the periods the playwright lived through.

While deconstructing one of her plays, one should focus on her staple work Top Girls. The play explores the theme of Thatcherism and focuses on the character of Marlene, a person who was the head of an employment agency in London. Essentially, the piece focuses on compromises and conflicts Marlene had to endure to achieve her successful career. Churchill created the play by using a non-linear, merely collage-like style. The playwright concentrate on social and emotional cost women face when they are exposed to the male-dominated environment. Churchill presents Marlene as “top girl,” and revolves the play around women from five different historical periods who meet the “top girl” (Greenwald 499). In Churchill’s Top Girl, actors play several roles, which underscores personality fragmentation when a person is exposed to abuse and oppression. In the play, Churchill historicizes the characters and tries to represent them through Thatcherism and response to patriarchal society.

Works Cited
Angelis, April. "Caryl Churchill: Changing the Language of Theatre." The Guardian, 26 Mar. 2020,
Greenwald, Michael L. The Longman Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Drama: A Global Perspective. Longman Publishing Group, 2004.
Lotha, Gloria. "Caryl Churchill." Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 May 2019,