Top Girls, called Zelta meitenes (literally -- Golden Girls) pissed some people off and inspired others.
It was my second production at the New Riga Theatre. At the time, ‘feminism’ was a dirty word, even amongst my formidable female cast. Art wasn't supposed to be political; if it was, it was considered shallow. Caryl Churchill's status as a world famous playwright meant nothing to the local audience; after all, she wasn't Chekhov. But her feminist ideas landed where they should. For one thing, the actors themselves became empowered. And at least one letter from the audience protested the 'man-hating' content. I took that as a good sign.
The dramatic economic changes in post-Soviet Latvia gave a particular urgency to this production. By 2001, a yawning gap had opened between those Latvians with money - and everyone else. Churchill's anger and class analysis were a necessary tonic; to at least one critic, the depiction of the social chasm was so shocking that she accused me of making fun of those left behind. That was never my intention.
I’m proud of having persuaded Churchill — in person, on the phone —to let us cut and rewrite one patch of the play. I knew that the Marxist rhetoric in Act Two was simply not going to fly with the post-Soviet audience in 2001. (Maybe now it would.) She agreed to let us intersperse our own text at this point. Playwright Lauris Gundars stepped in to create a seamless translation.
Dace Džeriņa’s design turned the stage into a box, a trap for the top girls. Costume designer Kristīne Jurjāne, fresh off her success with The Birds’ Opera, continued her intoxicating exploration of colour.
The show ran at the New Riga Theatre for three seasons until the lead actress Sandra Kļaviņa (who won an award for her performance) became pregnant.