Tag Archives: Bruegel

TOP GIRLS – “Woman Storms Hell” (Dull Gret)

This is second backgrounder on the historical figures who appear in Top Girls, British playwright Caryl Churchill’s award-winning drama.  The play, which Churchill wrote in 1982, has appeared on the Alumnae Theatre stage before: in our 3rd floor Studio space back in 1996.

The new production of Top Girls is directed by Alysa Golden, and will run on the Mainstage from January 18 – February 2, 2019.  Tickets are available at https://www.alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html

Alumnae Theatre Company member Diane Forrest, a writer and editor, has profiled the guests who appear in the play – here’s her second blog entry, profiling Gret, who is portrayed onstage by Jordi O’Dael:


 Looter? Vigilante? Feminist icon? If we know Dull Gret at all, it’s probably from the Pieter Bruegel painting “Dulle Griet,” in which she leads a troop of peasant women against the denizens of the underworld. But she is a familiar figure in European folklore (where she may also be called “Mad Meg”) and appears in many other paintings.

It’s unclear exactly what we should think of Gret. In many ways she’s a typical misogynistic creation, the domineering, browbeating housewife, a greedy, ignorant peasant with many of the characteristics of a witch. But there are hints of something more positive: she’s also brave, outspoken and a crusader against oppressors. (She may have been the inspiration for Bertold Brecht’s Mother Courage.)

Maybe it’s because of her bravery that she has so many cannon named after her. However you feel about Gret, you’d want her on your side in a fight.

Full painting “Dulle Griet” by Pieter Bruegel The Elder, 1563.

For more exploration of Dull Gret in art, see http://winsham.blogspot.com/2015/04/dulle-griet-many-faces-of-mad-meg.html

For more info on the cast of Alumnae Theatre Company’s new production of Top Girls (Jan 18 – Feb 2, 2019), please visit https://www.alumnaetheatre.com/top-girls.html

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