Come hungry for history and social justice to this weekend’s studio show, “Top Girls.” The play will open up with a dinner party far from ordinary, as main character Marlene, played by sophomore Paula Pierce is caught in a time warp where her co-workers have suddenly transformed into accomplished female figures of the past. They are celebrating Marlene’s recent promotion—over a man—at the high-power business firm where she works.
“These women are discovering what it means to be people who can go for [business ventures] without male dominance,” freshman cast member Charmaine Van Kirk said.
“Top Girls” explores the trials a woman has to go through when she rises to the top of her field. While men face similar obstacles, women are often criticized for sacrificing family and home life. This, along with other themes of feminism, influenced the director, post-bacc Ren Barkey, to choose this work by Caryl Churchill.
“Especially right now with Trump. . .there’s a lot of repression for women, specifically with regulation of women’s healt. . .and also the wage gap is still a huge deal,” Barkey said. “I was really just interested in exploring that—living with [a] career, and having to balance that with family basically the glass ceiling effect.”
While the play takes place in the 1980s and might be considered a time-piece, many elements of the show are still applicable to the life of a woman in America today. Though the plot may seem simple at first, as Marlene’s ethics become more like these of the very male oppressors she fought against, viewers are left to wonder if a woman in power can also uphold patriarchal structures.
“It’s really interesting to see power dynamics when there aren’t gender roles to hold people back as much,” sophomore cast-member Jo Hill says.
Like Barkey, the all-female cast at Knox shares an affinity for the play. All agreed “Top Girls” was the right choice for the second studio production of this term. For Hill, Van Kirk and Lola Stam ‘21, the play will be their acting debut.
“It’s a really real and pure play. It brings this comforting aspect—even though the ideas and the topics that everyone is discussing are really hard,” Stam says.
Top Girls will be running this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Studio Theatre in CFA.