Year 13 Top Girls & Gatsby A04 typicality

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This entry was posted in AQA A-level Literature, Gatsby & pre-1900 poetry, top girls. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Year 13 Top Girls & Gatsby A04 typicality

  1. Amelia Stone says:

    Max Stafford Clark is a theatre director – he co founded the John Stock Theatre Company in 1974 which enabled him to to make a major contribution to modern theatre. Caryl Churchill took place in the workshops of the company, and Stafford Clark co-directed and directed many modern plays such as Top Girls. From the workshops, those such as Churchill would get material to inspire a writing phase before rehearsals began.

  2. Annie Lewis says:

    70s/80s Theatre:
    Feminist Theatre aimed to use drama to question power structures and shake down the patriarchy. Audiences: Mixed heterosexual and homosexual audiences, feminists, people interested in women’s comedy, women fleeing domestic abuse, punks.
    Monstrous Regiment Theatre Company: Established in 1975. Main focus is to portray a women’s life and experiences. Haven’t done any productions since 1993 since they’re financial support was discontinued. Men were not excluded from the production, however women were to predominate on and off stage. Explored a variety of theatrical works: epic theatre, cabaret, performance art, large ensembles and one woman shows. Caryl Churchill collaborated with the company in 1975; worked together on the technique of many of her plays. Churchill was a resident dramatist and spent the majority of the 1970s and 1980s working alongside Monstrous regiment.
    Cunning Stunts: blocked.
    Beryl and the Perils: established in 1978. Most famous for their musical sketch show ‘Is Dennis really the menace?’ which was about women, sex and sexuality. The reason for forming was because the founders were unhappy about the way women were presented on stage and the imbalance between men and female actors. Policy: ‘To be politically exciting and relevant, socially inclusive and theatrically knife edge.’
    Gay Sweatshops: established in 1974. Identified their purpose as ‘To make heterosexuals aware of the oppression they exercise or tolerate, and expose and end media misrepresentations of homosexuals.’ Associated with gay and lesbian works. Disbanded in 1997.

  3. Rebecca Jary says:

    Winter Dreams (I couldn’t finish reading the story in the lesson but found an interesting resource comparing the short story to The Great Gatsby):
    There are strong similarities between Gatsby and Dexter, as well as between Judy Jones and Daisy Buchanan.
    Gatsby and Dexter are both born into a lower social class they reject and into poor economic circumstances they strive to overcome. As boys, neither of them accepts his identity, and both of them work hard to make themselves over into different people. They are ashamed of their personal backgrounds. Jimmy Gatz goes so far as to actually change his name. Dexter, like Gatsby, misleads people as to where he was born.
    Dexter and Gatsby both watch rich people to learn how to speak, dress, and act in their world. Dexter becomes better at this than Gatsby did. Gatsby tried to “act rich” but set himself apart–by his garish display of money–from those who really had been born to wealth.
    The dream motif lies at the heart of each work. At heart, Gatsby and Dexter are both romantics rather than realists. They live (and in Gatsby’s case, die) for their dreams. Gatsby dies with his dream intact, still waiting for Daisy to call. Dexter continues to draw breath, but with the death of his romantic illusions, to him his life no longer seems worth living.

  4. Imogen Keable says:

    Don’t Look Back In Anger (1956) – John Osborne at the Royal Court Theatre.
    Modern Theatre- Osborne “succeeded in capturing the moods of the time”, representing an angry protagonist, Jimmy Porter, who represented a new generation (post war youth) benefitting from free education, yet, unable to prosper from it due to the still largely class-driven society. This attitude was reflected in the “angry young men” movement during 1950-80s. Osborne was an archetype example for this movement. They expressed the frustration of class distinctions, and these “men” were most predominantly of the middle or lower class and criticised the hypocrisy of the middle/upper class. The Royal Court Theatre promoted new writing and believed that the writer was the fundamental creative force within theatre. After “Don’t Look Back in Anger” was performed at the Royal Court, the theatre gained a reputation for controversy.
    Both Caryl Churchill and John Osborne are regarded as writers in the same generation who developed a pioneering attitude to 20th Century Theatre.

  5. Imogen Love says:

    Elaine Aston explores the themes of Churchill’s plays across time. By “experimenting with dramatic form in the interests of interrogating urgent social questions”, her play ‘Owners’ (1972) exposed Western “emotional capitalism” (Wright). She used the gender-reversal technique of an active female, Marion, and an inactive male, Alex: relevant to Top Girls, where Churchill uses the “tough bird” to challenge views that women working was “not natural”. The theme of capitalism continues with Dull Gret describing how “a big devil sat on a roof with a big hole in his arse and he’s scooping stuff out of it […] it’s money, so a lot of the women stop and get some” – capitalism being ingrained in society ultimately breaks down the sisterhood.

    Churchill developed a “feminist consciousness” with the “social-feminist collective” Monstrous Regiment in 1976, in her play ‘Vinegar Tom’. Scenes were in both the 17th century and in songs, “to insist that women’s oppression is not consigned to the historical past but is an urgent contemporary issue”. The presentation of womankind being at risk called for ensemble-based acting, a Brechtian technique shown in Top Girls, with character doubling exploring the common threads of feminine issues across time. It forces the audience to “see and feel their way towards the necessity of social change in the interests of women’s equality.”

    When Thatcher became PM in 1979, Churchill “sharpened her attack on Tory Britain”. In Top Girls, her presentation of women domineering society is almost representative of the “increasing number of women playwrights […] in a male-dominated profession”. Women are shown to be taking over everywhere – they dominate the restaurant in Act One, the workplace in Act Two, and the home in Act Three. There is no need for men, whether in a traditional domestic environment or an office environment, exploring the influence of women in all industries, despite regressive politics such as Thatcher’s individualism undermining their value and importance.

  6. Seb says:

    4. What is the play Cloud Nine about? What does it have in common with Top Girls in theme and style?

    Cloud 9 is a two-act play written by Caryl Churchill, workshopped with the Joint Stock Theatre Company in late 1978 and premiered at Dartington College of Arts in February 1979. Cloud Nine is a story about hypocritical people living in 1880s Africa (Act 1) and 1979 London (Act 2). The story confronts colonial and sexual repression with a gender-bend cast of characters who traverse 100 years while only aging 25. Act I takes place in Victorian Africa, while Act II is set in modern London.
    Act
    Clive, A British colonial administrator, lives with his family, a governess and servant during turbulent times in Africa. The natives are rioting and Mrs Saunders, a widow, comes to them to seek safety. Her arrival is soon followed by Harry Bagley, an explorer. Clive makes passionate advances to Mrs Saunders, his wife Betty fancies Harry, who secretly has sex with the servant, Joshua, and Clive’s son, Edward. The governess Ellen, who reveals herself to be a lesbian, is forced into marriage with Harry after his sexuality is discovered and condemned by Clive. Act 1 ends with the wedding celebrations; the final scene is Clive giving a speech while Joshua is pointing a gun at him.
    Act II
    Although Act II is set in 1979, some of the characters of Act I reappear – for them, only 25 years have passed. Betty has left Clive, her daughter Victoria is now married to an overbearing Martin, and Edward has an openly gay relationship with Gerry. Victoria, upset and distant from Martin, starts a lesbian relationship with Lin. When Gerry leaves Edward, Edward, who discovers he is in fact bisexual, moves in with his sister and Lin. The three of them have a drunken ceremony in which they call up the Goddess, after which characters from Act I begin appearing. Act II has a looser structure, and Churchill played around with the ordering of the scenes. The final scene shows that Victoria has left Martin for a polyamorous relationship with Edward and Lin, and they are sharing custody of their son Tommy. Gerry and Edward are on good terms again, and Betty becomes friends with Gerry, who tells her about Edward’s sexuality
    Similarities between Top Girls and Cloud 9:
    • Family- from the start of Cloud 9 the audience is told about how families are supposed to behave, according to Clive and his old-fashioned beliefs. He tells the audience that he is a father and therefore leader of his family. This is similar to Top Girls where in Act 1 the women talk about their fathers, children and family in general. Furthermore, the Marlene’s atypical family is the main focus of the play.
    • Obscene language- both plays use controversial portrayals of obscene language
    • Character doubling- . Each actor plays one role in Act I and a different role in Act II – the characters who appear in both acts are played by different actors in the first and second. Similarly, character doubling is also seen in Top Girls throughout the play.

  7. Luella says:

    example of how to use A04 typicality – Fitzgerald’s romantic influence…
    The absurdity of the social hierarchy constructed by corrupt 1920’s politics is first highlighted in the epigraph, whereby under a pseudonym, Fitzgerald fuses Romantic rhythm and styles; the ‘high bouncing lover’ in the gold hat highlighting how materialism poses a grave barrier to love, when such greed becomes so institutionalised. This materialistic barrier endemic to the jazz-era is later echoed in chapter 5, whereby Daisy is overwhelmed at Gatsby’s ‘shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel’. Fitzgerald draws again on his Romantic influence, this time echoing Keats, in order to display Daisy’s superficiality; instead of ‘weep and moan forth witless words with many a sigh’ as in ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, Daisy ‘bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily’ amplifying her materialistic values over a carpe diem pusuit of love. Daisy is not weeping over a lost love, but rather this intense display of excessive wealth before her, and what this could have meant for her relationship with Gatsby, had such riches been inherent to his roots.

  8. Amy Elliott says:

    “Feminist theatre strongly challenged traditional roles of women in society”, Caryl Churchill’s intention for the play Top Girls was exactly this. At a time of prominent change in British society due to second and now 3rd wave feminism many political legislation, like the abortion act (1967), occurred granting women more equal rights. in the mid 20th century stereotypical roles were still prevalent therefore Churchill wanted to challenge this through the atypical female powerful character of Marlene.

  9. Beth says:

    “Feminist theatre strongly challenged traditional roles of women in society.” Churchill interprets this ideology into Top Girls through the characterisation of Marlene who ‘don’t want a baby’ – a prospect made easier through the legislation of the Abortion Act in 1967. As well as this Marlene also states how ‘she needs adventures more’ than the she needed a husband proving her to be an atypical female figure juxtapposing the traditional role of woman in society as a mother and a wife. As a result of Churchill’s atypical approach to the ”ideal woman” it lead to the ruthless and ‘ball-breaker’ feminine aesthetic becoming more prevalent in society causing uproar for those around who weren’t yet ready to transition with the increased female prospects.

  10. Alice says:

    The “lost generation” writers included F Scott Fitzgerald, TS Eliot and Ernest Hemingway; it was said they had a lack of drive resulting from the scale of the death and injury they had seen during fighting. Samuel Hynes described it as “lost means not vanished but disorientated, wandering, directionless” (1990). This generation had lost faith in traditional values such as courage, patriotism and masculinity and as a result turned to an aimless and reckless life, with a focus on material wealth and an inability to believe in abstract ideals. Common themes in their work include decadence, such as Gatsby’s lavish parties, revealing the hedonism and sordid nature of the young and independently wealthy after the war. An idealised past was often featured in the narrative, such as Gatsby’s idealisation of Daisy and is inability to see her as she truly is. The death of the American dream was also commonly explored, shown by Fitzgerald through Gatsby’s death and loss of Daisy.

    Literary realism began mid-19th century. Authors chose to depict everyday activities as they happened instead of using a romanticised or stylised approach. It was broadly described as the “representation of reality”. In contrast, modernism is associated with the 20th century reaction against realism. Modernists often used language that is difficult to understand, wrote in a stream of consciousness style with a non-chronological structure.

  11. Michaela says:

    Fitzgerald as a modernist writer reveals the harsh realities of the 1920’s Jazz era. The Valley of the Ashes in The Great Gatsby represents moral decay and is the ugly by-product of consumerism that is forgotten by the wealthy. This is typical of modernist literature as three years earlier T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’ was written to show the loss of faith and love in the modern world. Eliot mentions a “brown fog” and Fitzgerald, a”powdery air”. Therefore,it was typical amongst modernist writers to show how people had been blinded by consumerism and lost any spiritual guide.

  12. Olivia Walker says:

    Gatsby himself names “The Jazz Age”, what is this in specific terms

    “The 1920’s in the US” are “characterised as a period of carefree hedonism, wealth, freedom, and youthful exuberance. The jazz music of the era is said to typify the spirit of the decade, a freer and uninhibited music genre – post-war people embraced diversity more and were generally inclined to favour materialism over love. Jazz originated in New Orleans and played a significant part in wider cultural changed – conjunctive with the Roaring Twenties. Fitzgerald eulogised the end of the Jazz Age in “Echoes of the Jazz Age” saying that “the present writer already looks back to it with nostalgia. It… flattered him and gave him more money than he had dreamed of, simply for telling people that he felt as they did, that something had to be done with all the nervous energy stored up and unexpended in the war.” The infusion of new money brought with it a new morality for the young social set, less concerned with traditional values and more interested in individualism and modernism (LINK the disparity between Tom and Gatsby being arguably more liberal, spending exorbitant amounts of money on parties for Daisy and his putting her on a pedestal compared to Tom’s oppression of Daisy.) Fitzgerald could possibly also be commenting on the lack of fundamental change in social structure in Gatsby’s making decisions for Daisy by the end and his eventual downfall, tradition ultimately wins. Fitzgerald described it as “the age of miracles”, (LINK transcendental themes in the novel), and as “an age of art… excess, and…satire”.

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