|Birth Day:||September 3, 1938|
|Birth Place:||London, England, British|
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She returned to England to attend university in 1956, and in 1960 graduated from Lady Margaret Hall, a women's college at Oxford University, with a BA degree in English Literature. She received the Richard Hillary Memorial Prize at Oxford and also began her writing career there. Her four earliest plays, Downstairs (produced 1958),You've No Need to be Frightened, Having a Wonderful Time (1960), and Easy Death (produced 1962) were performed at Oxford by student theatre ensembles. One of her plays, Downstairs was performed at the National Student Drama Festival in 1958 and won the first prize.
She married barrister David Harter in 1961. They have three sons and live in Hackney, east London.
In 1972, she wrote Owners, a two-act, 14-scene play about obsession with power. It was her first professionally produced stage play and "her first major theatrical endeavour"; it was produced in London the same year.
Her first play to receive wide notice was Cloud Nine (1979), "a farce about sexual politics", set partly in a British overseas colony during the Victorian era. It explores the effects of the colonialist/imperialist mindset on intimate personal relationships, and uses cross-gender casting for comic and instructive effect. The play became successful in Britain and in the United States, winning an Obie Award in 1982 for best play of the year in New York.
Churchill gradually abandoned more conventions of realism, with her loyalty to feminist themes and ideas becoming a guiding principle in her work. She won an Obie Award for best play in 1983 with Top Girls, "which deals with women's losing their humanity in order to attain power in a male-dominated environment." It features an all-female cast, and focuses on Marlene, who has relinquished a home and family to achieve success in the world of business. Half the action takes place at a celebratory dinner where Marlene mixes with historical, iconic and fictional women who have achieved great stature in a "man's world", but always at great cost. The other half of the play, set a year in the past, focuses on Marlene's family, where the true cost of her "successful" life becomes poignantly and frighteningly apparent. In Top Girls, Churchill devised a system to indicate how the dialogue should be performed. She used the forward dash signal (/) to demonstrate a person interrupting the person speaking. She also used the asterisk symbol (*) to indicate a speech following on from a speech earlier than the one immediately before it.
"The prolific Churchill continued to push boundaries into the late 1990s. In 1997 she collaborated with the composer Orlando Gough to create 'Hotel,' a choreographed opera or sung ballet set in a hotel room. Also that year her surrealistic short play 'This Is a Chair' was produced." Reviews of the London opening of Hotel were favorable, but with the first piece ("Eight Rooms") generally considered superior to the second ("Two Nights"). In 2015, Moira Buffini of The Guardian listed This Is a Chair as one of Churchill's best works, stating that it "shows a real humility about the political inadequacy of playwrights."
Her 2002 play, A Number, addresses the subject of human cloning and questions of identity. Churchill received an Obie Award in 2005 for this play. Her adapted screenplay of A Number was shown on BBC TV in September 2008.
Churchill has published translations of Seneca's Thyestes, Olivier Choinière's Bliss (Félicité), and August Strindberg's A Dream Play. Her version of A Dream Play was premiered at the National Theatre in 2005.
In January 2009, she wrote a ten-minute play that explores a history of Israel, ending with the 2008 Israeli attack on Gaza. It was performed for free at the Royal Court Theatre, with a collection taken to donate to Medical Aid for Palestinians.
In 2010, Churchill was commissioned to write the libretto for a new short opera by Orlando Gough, as part of the Royal Opera House's ROH2 OperaShots initiative. The resulting work, A ring a lamp a thing, played for five performances in the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House.
Her Love and Information, opened at the Royal Court Theatre in September 2012, directed by James Macdonald. It was well-received by critics. The play, featuring 100 characters and performed by a cast of 15, is structured as a series of more than 50 fragmented scenes, some no longer than 25 seconds, all of which are apparently unrelated but which accumulate into a startling mosaic, a portrayal of modern consciousness and the need for human intimacy, love and connection. The play will have its regional premiere at Sheffield Theatres in June 2018, directed by Caroline Steinbeis.
Serious Money (1987), "a comedy about excesses in the financial world", is a verse play, chiefly written in rhyming couplets. It takes a satirical look at the vagaries of the stock market and its Thatcherite denizens. The play was highly acclaimed, perhaps in part because it played immediately after the stock market crash of 1987. Icecream (Royal Court Theatre 1989) explores Anglo-American stereotypes. Richard Christensen of the Chicago Tribune wrote that Icecream "doesn't have much depth, but it does have a quirky, creepy kick to it", describing it as "a small but telling piece of theater". Andrew Dickson of The New Yorker dubbed the play "wryly picaresque" in 2015.
Softcops (first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984), is a "surreal play set in 19th-century France about government attempts to depoliticize illegal acts". Justin Hayford of the Chicago Reader wrote that the play had little to offer to those who had already read Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish (on which Softcops is based), and that the play "glosses Foucault's monumental work in Cliffs Notes fashion". In 2018, Michael Billington stated that Softcops "felt like a meditation on crime and punishment lacking Churchill's usual gift of narrative drive."
In November 2019, along with other public figures, Churchill signed a letter supporting Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, describing him as "a beacon of hope in the struggle against emergent far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racism in much of the democratic world" and endorsed him in the 2019 UK general election.
Currently, Caryl Churchill is 84 years, 5 months and 3 days old. Caryl Churchill will celebrate 85th birthday on a Sunday 3rd of September 2023.
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