The Theatre of Caryl Churchill

R. Darren Gobert

DOI: 10.5040/9781408166390

ISBN: 9781408154526


The Theatre of Caryl Churchill documents and analyses the major plays and productions of one of Britain's greatest and most innovative playwrights. Drawing on hundreds of never-before-seen archival sources from the US and the UK, it provides an essential guide to Churchill's groundbreaking work for students and theatregoers.

Each chapter illuminates connections across plays and explores major scripts alongside unpublished and unfinished projects. Each considers the rehearsal room, the stage, and the printed text. Each demonstrates how Churchill has pushed the boundaries of dramatic aesthetics while posing urgent political and theoretical questions. But since each maps Churchill's work in a different way, each deploys a different reading practice - for many approaches are necessary to characterise such a restlessly imaginative and prolific career.

Through its five interlocking parts, The Theatre of Caryl Churchill tells a story about the playwright, her work, and its place in contemporary drama.

Gobert offers a refreshing exploration of how the rehearsal process and actual productions help shape viewers' perceptions of the author's work. Students and scholars of today's theatrical landscape will find much to admire in this volume, not the least of which is the research methodology, the contextual analysis, and the timeliness of the subject matter … A real plus is the examination and analysis of the production history of many of Churchill's works. Top Girls, Serious Money, Cloud Nine, Fen, and Blue Heart receive treatment generally not available elsewhere … Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. CHOICE

Caryl Churchill's body of work is prodigious. From 1958 to 2015, she has written nearly fifty plays for the stage, radio, and television, not including her unpublished or unproduced scripts. Despite her popularity, it's unlikely many people know the entirety of her work, and even those who do will know it better and more deeply by reading Gobert's excellent study. Ambitious and accessible, the book will be valuable for any course on Churchill, or for anyone interested in the playwright's work. While several books on Churchill already exist, Gobert's innovative approach makes this one a welcome addition. Taking its cue from Churchill's own experimentalism, its form is deliberately varied and eschews chronology. ... The analysis is consistently cogent and original. Even plays that have been written about many times over-e.g., Top Girls, Cloud Nine-are given new and compelling readings here. ... Approaching Churchill's career through Gobert's five overlapping points of entry is like crisscrossing a landscape: what emerges is a necessarily incomplete but illuminating, complex, and expansive picture of the terrain. The occasional re-treading, or the recurrence of several plays, productions, and critical figures in Churchill's working history, only enlarges our understanding of them. ... Happily, Gobert's enthusiasm for Churchill's work is matched by the rigor of the analyses, making this book both a great pleasure and a boon for theatre scholars. PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art

It is no small task to condense the life's work of one of Britain's most celebrated and prolific living playwrights into a single volume. … In line with the aims and scope of Bloomsbury's Critical Companions series, R. Darren Gobert's The Theatre of Caryl Churchill seamlessly interweaves text and performance analysis with extensive archival research, offering an exhaustive survey of Churchill's oeuvre and refreshing critical perspectives that expand on her artistic legacy. … Despite his meticulous penchant for detail and in-depth scrutiny of various texts and historical records, Gobert's prose remains accessible, vivid, stylish, ripe with humor and wit in ways that enhance his advocacy of Churchill's work. In short, this accessible book is essential reading for students and scholars or Churchill alike. Theatre Journal