Posted on: 26 April 2023 by Jacob Scott in Posts
As the Everyman Theatre prepared for their current run of Caryl Churchill’s ‘Top Girls’, they welcomed students from the Department of English behind the scenes to learn more about the process of putting on a show.
Our first sneak-peek was a visit to a technical rehearsal on the 27th February. We entered through the stage door – a thrill for a group of theatre-lovers! Before we saw the cast and crew at work, producer Michelle told us a little about who was who, how the rehearsal was being run, and why it might stop and start – it was all about smoothing out the show and transferring it from the rehearsal room to the main stage, so it was fascinating to sit in on.
It’s important to keep the magic of the theatre alive, so we won’t give a full run-down of what happened - but it’s safe to say that watching the actors switch in and out of character in a split second was fantastic. The Everyman production of ‘Top Girls’ has a striking auditory world, and we got to preview some of the soundscape made by designer Nicola T. Chang in our tech visit. By speaking to members of the production team, we got the kinds of insights that you might not get simply by watching the show itself.
On the 9th of March, a group of staff and students from the department went to see the show. There were things that had changed since the technical rehearsal: sounds, curtain drops, and glass cups replaced by plastic ones. This served as a reminder that theatre is driven by practicality as well as art. The show spoke to the 80s through its costumes, stage design, and upbeat soundtrack. The actors were dressed in everything from period robes to powerful shoulder pads, and the set was dynamic - stark in ways, but not at all empty.
The icing on the cake of our Top Girls experience was a post-show discussion led by Dr. Hannah Greenstreet and Dr. Alex Coupe. In this, the cast spoke about the trust they had in one another onstage – this absolutely came across in the confidence of their performance, particularly during those moments fuelled by overlapping speech and quick-paced dialogue.
Questions were answered by both cast members and the assistant director of the show, Millie Foy, adding yet another dimension to what we learnt at the tech rehearsal and during the show. The Top Girls team spoke about the decision to translate the setting of the piece from Suffolk to Liverpool – as noted by both Millie and members of the cast, the Everyman is a local venue that is interested in its role in the community, and the play’s themes speak to the experiences of people who grew up in Liverpool during the early 80s. As students at Liverpool learning about theatre, this was a fantastic conversation to listen in on, offering valuable perspectives about how both works written for stage and theatres as institutions can be linked to the places they inhabit.
Getting to visit Top Girls and step behind the scenes in one of Liverpool’s most exciting theatres was a pleasure every step of the way. The show is on at the Liverpool Everyman until Saturday 25th March – be sure to see it if you can.