Born in London, 1938, Churchill had some early acclaim with radio plays like The Ants (1962), not not not not not enough oxygen (1971) and Schreber's Nervous Illness (1972). However, it was through contact with feminism that she developed the language and structures to carry the complexity of her ideas. Top Girls (1982), perhaps Churchill's best play, keenly predicted the rise of bourgeois 'post-feminism' in the Thatcherite 1980s, raising stimulating questions, notably in its tour de force opening where the stories of six women from history overlap, clash and connect over a restaurant meal. Fen (1983) dissected economic and sexual oppressions in the Fenlands; the Foucault-inspired Softcops (1984) considered the meanings of criminality and punishment; and Serious Money (1987) was a witty verse thriller about the City, substantially attended by its objects of attack. Churchill's witty, powerfully intelligent dialogue and her uniquely imaginative sense of structure saw her at the forefront of British playwriting in the 1980s and 1990s.
Churchill Plays: 1: Owners; Traps; Vinegar Tom; Light Shining in Buckinghamshire; Cloud Nineby Caryl Churchill
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In Traps, a set of characters meet themselves and their pasts to create "plenty of sinewy lines and joyous juxtapostions" (Plays and Players); Vinegar Tom "is set in the world of seventeenth-century witchcraft, but it speaks, through its striking images and its plethora of ironic contradictions, of and to this century..." (Tribune); Light Shining in Buckinghamshire is set during the Civil War and "unflinchingly shows the intolerance that was the obverse side of the demand for common justice. Deftly, it sketches in the kind of social conditions.. that led to hunger for revolution...The play has an austere eloquence that precisely matches its subject." (The Guardian) Cloud Nine sheds light on some of the British Empire's repressed dark side and is "a marvelous play - sometimes scurrilous, always observed with wicked accuracy, and ultimately, surprisingly, rather moving. It plunges straight to the heart of the endless convolutions of sexual mores...and does so with acrobatic wit." (Guardian) Owners:"I was in an old woman's flat when a young man offering her money to move came round, that was one of the starting points of the play" (Caryl Churchill).
The plays in this volume represent the best of Churchill's writing up to and including her emergence onto the international theatre scene with Cloud Nine.
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