Seniors showcase skills in “Top Girls”

Daniel Kim

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Senior theater majors prepare for their performance in Top Girls. Front row, from left: Kathryn Bogley '15, Annie Szeliski '15. Back row, from left: Sarah Ann Wollett '15, Caroline Rensel '15. Photo by Halley McCormick.

Senior theater majors prepare for their performance in Top Girls. Front row, from left: Kathryn Bogley ’15, Annie Szeliski ’15. Back row, from left: Sarah Ann Wollett ’15, Caroline Rensel ’15. Photo by Halley McCormick.

From Oct. 23-26, four senior theatre majors will showcase their senior projects in the production “Top Girls.” Sarah Ann Wollet, Caroline Rensel and Kathryn Bogley have been researching their roles and the play, while senior Anne Szeliski has been preparing as stage manager. Along with their theatre classes, the students will be using this experience to complete their performance requirement of the major.

Caryl Churchill wrote “Top Girls” in 1982. The play follows Marlene, a career-driven woman interested in women’s success in business. In May, each senior was informed which of the characters they would play in “Top Girls.”

Ever since they were given their roles, they have been extensively researching anything that would allow them to perform their best.

“I’ve been spending a lot of times with the script. It’s a really language-heavy play, so even the act of memorizing the language has been very difficult,” said Rensel. “I have been watching BBC and listening to a lot of things to try and get the British accent that we’re doing in the show.”

Each senior has been researching their characters, as well as the play and its historical context. This knowledge and preparation will help them successfully execute their projects.

“One neat part about my senior thesis is that I have also worked as the dramaturg [who is responsible for researching the show for the director and cast] for this show,” said Szeliski in an email. “‘Top Girls’ is an incredible show. Even though it was written in the 1980s, it focuses on issues that are still relevant today.”

Like many theatrical performances, “Top Girls” is about giving and taking. The cast give their best with the experience they have, and they take away more new knowledge about theatre.

“I’m really thrilled to work on this project because it’s a good encapsulation of a lot of the other shows I’ve worked on,” said Rensel. “[Previously] I worked on ‘Shooting Simone,’ which was about Simone de Beauvoir, who I played. That was all about feminism, and I learned about the origins of feminism … which I am using in this show.”

In addition to their role in the production, the seniors are required to write a paper and to complete an oral exam. These will act as a supplement to the play and their performance. The purpose of these additional works is to help the seniors articulate their process of researching and performing in the play.

“Now, [writing my thesis] is almost exciting because I love this whole process so much, and I love my characters,” said Bogley. “Thinking about what is my process and looking back at my rehearsal journals has been really interesting. I’ve learned a lot from it. I personally like the senior project for the performance.”

For the women, “Top Girls” is  a chance to show their friends, families and the community the commitment they put into their work. It will exhibit to the audience the unbounded knowledge they are able to acquire through this process.

“I’ve always struggled with how to define my job as a stage manager,” said Szeliski. “Through this process I’ve learned that my purpose is to see through the creative vision of the director and designers.”

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