Magazine

Feature: 9 Things About Churchill

Date posted: 11 May 2017Author: STC Production: Top Girls, Cloud Nine

Caryl Churchill (Photo: Marc Brenner)
Caryl Churchill (Photo: Marc Brenner)

The writer of Top Girls is widely regarded as the world's greatest living playwright. As someone who shuns the spotlight, little is known of her outside her work. To give you at least a little bit of insight, we've broken down her mystique into a few easy pieces…

 

1. THE ORIGINAL SLASHIE

For Top Girls, which premiered in 1982, Churchill indicated overlapping dialogue by marking the beginning of concurrent lines with a forward slash. This innovation has since become standard practice for playwrights.
 

2. CANADIAN CONNECTION

Churchill was born in Britain and has worked there her entire professional life, but she spent seven formative years living in Canada with her family, from age 10 to 17.
 

3. THE ANONYMOUS ARTIST

Famously reluctant when it comes to interviews and rarely photographed, Churchill has said, "I want to be either Homer or Anon, one of those people no one says anything about."
 

4. KITCHEN SINK DRAMAS

In the 1960s, Churchill wrote her first professionally-produced plays at her kitchen table, while also raising her three young sons.
 

5. A STABLE HOME

John Tydeman, the head of BBC radio drama, noted that Churchill is "the only person in my address book who is still living at the same house she was living in in the early 1960s."
 

6. OXFORD DAYS

A graduate of Oxford University, Churchill’s first plays were produced as student productions there while she was studying a BA in English Literature.
 

7. TUNING IN TO INSPIRATION

Churchill’s first major gig was writing radio plays for the BBC. The aural medium gave her a creative and narrative freedom that would later inform her theatre work.
 

8. A LIFE IN YEARS

Churchill was born in 1938, started writing plays in the late 1950s, and is still writing to this day.
 

9. ON CLOUD NINE

Written two decades into her career, Cloud Nine cemented Churchill’s status as a leading playwright – its New York season ran for two years, winning an Obie Award for Best Play in 1982. Her success in New York was only just beginning – Churchill would be inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2010. 

 

 

Top Girls, 12 Feb – 24 Mar 2018, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House

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