Top Girls Invites Talks of Gender Equality

Jacob Lawson, News Writer • jalawson16@ehc.edu

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Caroline Mosteller

“It is so vital, now more than ever, to put women’s stories at the forefront,” said Maxine Poole, a cast member of Emory & Henry’s new play, Top Girls.

“Audience members walk away from pieces like this thinking about the problems shown in the play and potentially inspired to create change in the real world,” said Rachel Hubble, another cast member.

Top Girls ran from Thursday, October 19 to Sunday, October 22. The book was written by Caryl Churchill and directed by Assistant Professor of Acting Rachael Swartz.

According to the Top Girls program, “Top Girls by Caryl Churchill calls upon us to examine what it means to be successful, fulfilled, and female or is it possible to be more than two of the above. Marlene, a business woman celebrating a major promotion, invites history and literature’s strongest and most revolutionary women to dinner and through their stories challenges our concepts of what it has meant to be woman and mother throughout the ages.”

Top Girls starred senior Maxine Poole, first-year Kassi Armendo, Junior Olivia Allen, First-year Madisyn Fleming, Junior Rachel Hubble, First-year Kennedy Ray, and Junior Marissa Marcus.

The cast members of Top Girls stressed why people should be engaged with shows like Top Girls and the questions they raise.

Senior Maxine Poole, who starred as Marlene, said, “I believe anyone who comes to see Top Girls will leave with questions as the play does raise many of them. Are women truly treated equally? How do other women play a part in their own oppression? It is possible from women today to ‘have it all’? It is not our job to necessarily answer these questions ourselves, but to keep asking them until we no longer need to.”

Junior Rachel Hubble, who starred as Pope Joan and Louise, talked about the show’s continued relevance saying, “Abortion, birth control, family planning, women being in leadership positions, women having to choose between family and their career; all of these controversial topics are still being discussed 30 years after the show was written.”

Junior Olivia Allen, who starred as Lady Nijo and Win said Top Girls is important because “it’s important to get people thinking and to open these gates for dialogue because nothing is ever going to change if we don’t talk about it.”

Rachael Swartz, the director of Top Girls discussed the educational benefits of the show as well as how the show reflects our modern world. Swartz reflected on the show saying, “Within the show, I wanted to examine the ways we use patriarchal tactics against other women to succeed. I want to inspect what success even is-if success is measure by the individual or the community. I wanted to examine the roles we assume for ourselves, the shackles we wear in the roles we do and don’t choose, and what it is to be free.”

As far as the educational benefits of doing show like this, Swartz said that during the rehearsal process that she, the cast, and crew “talked and talked about gender roles, about intersectional feminism, American feminism, British socialist feminism, we examined famous women from art and history. We exited this play better scholars than we entered it.”

Senior Amber Robinson was one of many Emory & Henry students to see Top Girls.

Robinson found the show to be very important in how it draws attention to inequality throughout the ages, particularly with how’s its two act structure is used, saying, “By incorporating a historical dream in the beginning, the show creates a timeline of women’s history, showing the utter disregard for female life throughout the ages with statements like, ‘it was only a girl, but I loved her,’ and ‘I had to obey, I promised.’ By creating an extreme example of oppression, the show sets the viewer up to recognize oppression in the 1980s. The show remains relevant because these problems are far from resolved, and anything but a joking manner.”

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