Showing posts from September, 2019

Four Bay Area Theaters Present Caryl Churchill Plays

By Claire L. Wong Abuse of power. Feminism. Sexual politics. Experience some of today’s most pressing issues dramatized for the stage by Caryl Churchill, one of the greatest living English-language playwrights. This season, four Bay Area theaters collaborate in presenting three classic plays and one newer work. With the Caryl Churchill Passport, get one ticket to each show and the best available seats. Shattering the glass ceiling doesn’t come without a few injuries in  Top Girls . In Margaret Thatcher’s divided England, nothing will stand in the way of Marlene’s rise through the corporate ranks. But what of other women? In the race to the top, there’s no time for sisterhood.  Top Girls , directed by Tamilla Woodard at A.C.T., is at the Geary through October 13. Cloud 9 show art courtesy Custom Made Theatre Co. Cloud 9 explores sexual politics in colonial Africa and modern-day Britain at Custom Made Theatre Co. This seminal work challenges assumptions about gender and sexualit

Doubling Down as Top Girls Begins Previews

By Claire L. Wong As Tops Girls enters previews this week, Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon discusses double casting and director Tamilla Woodard’s vision. “With Top Girls , Tamilla Woodard has at her disposal the ability to double cast, meaning one actor plays multiple roles,” says MacKinnon. “Caryl Churchill wrote this play with seven actors, seven women, who played fourteen roles. Tamilla Woodard decided to do it with nine women to play those fourteen roles. She’s changed how some of those doublings have traditionally been done, because she’s pulling out a story.” Left to right:  Top Girls actors Rosie Hallett, Michelle Beck, Julia McNeal, and MFA Program actor Summer Brown (class of 2020). Photo by Beryl Baker. “The teenage girl Angie isn’t double cast at all,” says MacKinnon. “There is something interesting about doing a play set in the 1980s largely about Angie’s aunt Marlene, a woman in her forties, cracking a glass ceiling. Forty years have passed since then. Angie

Director Tamilla Woodard on Top Girls (Part Two)

By Elspeth Sweatman  A year after bringing the rip-roaring adventure  Men on Boats  to the Strand, Director Tamilla Woodard is back at A.C.T. with Caryl Churchill’s 1982 play  Top Girls . Director Tamilla Woodard (left) and A.C.T. Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon (right) discuss  Top Girls . Photo by Claire L. Wong. What’s your process as a director? Do you like to do research? Any play I do, I go as deep as I can. Of course, I think that’s simply part of the job. The more you dig, the more you find and the more you find, the more you need to keep looking. I want to surround myself with as many tools as I can, not out of studiousness but to communicate about the play. First and foremost, I need to satisfy my questions so I go until I run out of time [ Laughs ] which 99.9 percent of the time is what happens. All of that is fuel for my imagination and decision-making. One of the things that I do with a play is I sit down and write just pages and pages of the things that are

Director Tamilla Woodard on Top Girls (Part One)

By Elspeth Sweatman A year after bringing the rip-roaring adventure Men on Boats to the Strand, Director Tamilla Woodard is back at A.C.T. with Caryl Churchill’s 1982 play  Top Girls . Director Tamilla Woodard describes her vision for Top Girls . Photo by Claire L. Wong. Men on Boats , which you directed last fall at the Strand, upended stereotypes, and in a way, Top Girls is doing something similar. These are powerful female characters, but they are all still trapped inside the patriarchy.  They are responding to the invisible presence of men. It’s like there are only women onstage but there’s a big man head hanging above them, looking down at them. [ Laughs ] Jaclyn [Backhaus] tackled stereotypes in Men on Boats by having no men and no mention of the fact that these female-identified bodies were playing men; men disappeared entirely. Here, no men appear onstage but man-ness is ever present. Masculinity is present. Patriarchy is present. These women are under the weight