Theater Program Opens 2019-20 Season with Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls

By Tom McLaughlin

The Rutgers University–Camden theater program will open the curtains on its 2019-20 season with celebrated British playwright Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls.

The production – featuring an all-female cast and directed by Paul Bernstein, an associate professor of theater – runs from Wednesday, Oct. 30, to Sunday, Nov. 3, in the Walter K. Gordon Theater on the Rutgers–Camden campus.

Evening performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, and a matinee performance will be at 2 p.m. Sunday. A special high school matinee performance will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 1.

The story centers around the ambitious, career-minded Marlene – played by senior theater major Brittany Onukwugha of Willingboro – who stops at nothing to become the top executive at Top Girls Employment Agency. However, when she sets out to shatter glass ceilings, there’s bound to be a few casualties along the way.

Set in Margaret Thatcher’s England, Top Girls scrutinizes the concept of feminism, asking the audience to consider whether the acquisition of wealth and power is a social achievement for women or just another form of patriarchy. The story considers whether there is any room for support and sisterhood in a world that glorifies capitalism and class division.

“As a director, I have focused on the women who are the victims of the money machine,” says Bernstein. “These women offset Marlene’s rise to a position of authority. Like war, there must be casualties in the world of commerce, but what does Marlene sacrifice in order to become a Top Girl? What part of herself must she give up? Is Marlene a victim of a different kind?”

Churchill is known for her Marxist-feminist views and her groundbreaking, avant-garde theatrical technique. She is the recipient of an Olivier Award, and three Obie Awards, including one for Top Girls.

Tickets are $12 for general admission; $10 for faculty, staff, and alumni; and $8 for students. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Impact Booth in the Campus Center, or by phone at (856) 225-6211.

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