September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Caryl Churchill

We don't know very much about her here in the US. Her work appeared on Broadway for the first time last season with the revival of Top Girls and she is arguably the most important feminist playwright. (I said arguably and those of you who know about theatre than I do can all argue about it.)

The folks in England celebrate her 70th. Here are some quotes from people who have worked with her:

Lindsay Duncan

I first met her on Top Girls. I'd never been involved in anything like it. There we were at the Royal Court, all of us women, asking all these questions of ourselves and the world. It was quite a heady time. I remember being so taken with her, this tall, striking, rather elegant but selfeffacing woman. I don't mean that she denied herself in any way, but she was one of the team, very open, she didn't intimidate or in any way make us feel that we weren't capable of doing it right. She wears her intelligence so lightly and brings the most delightful merriment into the rehearsal room. I remember feeling, this is what it's like to work with a woman. I decided then that I only ever wanted to work in that way. Not to play a part in something, but to be a part of something.
Harriet Walter
I think Caryl's particular skill in working through workshops while maintaining her individual inventiveness helped to feminise theatre in some way. She won't write anything that she doesn't want to write; she won't write at all if she's not in the mood. She is not in the least concerned with keeping trendy. She is so completely her own person, her own writer.
And from the Guardian
Of all the major forces in British playwriting, I can think of no one else who is regarded with such affection and respect by her peers. Maybe it's because Churchill has kept a low public profile over the years - she rarely gives interviews - while always supporting new writers.
Why Caryl Churchill is the Top Girl (The Times)
'She made us raise our game' (The Guardian)
photo credit: Jane Brown