Storrs: Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) will present Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9 in the Connecticut Repertory Theatre Studio Theatre October 23rd through November 2nd. The play, which during its 1982 Broadway run, “offer[ed] an evening of uninhibited lunacy”, still excites audiences with its confusion of gender roles and exploration of sexual repression versus societal freedom. For tickets and information, call 860-486-2113 and visit www.crt.uconn.edu.
Winner of the 1982 Obie Award for Best Play of the Year, Cloud 9 is a wild farce of sexual politics. Cloud 9 has been wildly successful in Britain and across the United States. CRT’s production will be directed by Vincent J. Cardinal, the Artistic Director and Department Head of the Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut.
In the wilds of 19th century Africa, the colonizers are restless in more ways than one. Friends and family flirt and fumble with power, gender, and sexuality, hilariously pushing against the boundaries of Victorian imperialism. Fast forward 100 years to the concrete jungle of London, where the Victorian legacy finally explodes in a blast of sexual awakening, self-acceptance and delectable humor. Caryl Churchill’s hilarious play, now a modern classic, fractures the conventional comedy in this wickedly funny, take-no-prisoners, carnal romp. The play features adult language and themes and is not appropriate for children.
Act 1, set in British Colonial Africa in the 1880’s, features characters cast out of their genders and races which Churchill uses to challenge racial stereotypes and perceived gender norms. Act 2, set in 1979 in a London Park, continues the upheaval by recasting actors from Act 1 in completely new character roles that are related to the previous characters from Act 1, as if only 25 years have passed. Churchill has been quoted about the structure saying, “The first act, like the society it shows, is male dominated and firmly structured. In the second act, more energy comes from the women and the gays.”
“Playwright Churchill uses bawdy humor and theatrical surprise to challenge us to re-think our assumptions about race, sexuality and gender dichotomies, which are traditionally defined as binary oppositions of male/female, gay/straight, white/non-white. Churchill gleefully overturns these patriarchal kinship systems with cross gender casting, subversion of assumptions, and shocking laughter. She also subverts time, launching the play’s characters from 1879 to 1979 with the blink of an eye, revealing outmoded social norms and lingering prejudice. Churchill is seriously funny,” said Artistic Director Vincent J. Cardinal who is also directing the production.
Costume designer Stephanie Martin faces the challenge of costuming the same characters across time and different actors playing the parts. Martin said, “Costuming this play is rewarding and requires unconventionality. The mere act of putting a 6’ man into a frilly pink dress makes a stark visual statement. Clothing is a category that we use to make snap judgements about a person. Costuming requires this to communicate on stage. At the same time, we’re working against that in this play. Seeing a Lin or a Gerry, the more punk-styled characters introduced in Act 2, leads to certain assumptions about who they are – assumptions that the characters themselves are not entirely at ease with. And these instances of unease are where I find the heart of Churchill’s message about identity: people are complicated, multifaceted and impossible to fit neatly into the boxes our social systems prescribe.”
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Vincent J. Cardinal (Director/ Artistic Director CRT) was the Chair of Theatre at the University of Miami and the Artistic Director of the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, Director of the School of Theater, Head of the MFA Playwriting Program at Ohio University and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Adelphi University. Cardinal was the Director of off-Broadway’s Circle Repertory Company School of Theater, an Associate Artist with the Circle Repertory Company and a member of its LAB. He graduated in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama where he was honored with the ASCAP-Cole Porter Award for Best-Collected Work. His plays have been produced internationally. He has directed more than 80 productions from coast to coast including 22 world premieres. In the summer 2014 he directed Sunshine Boys and Gypsy for Nutmeg Summer Series.
The Design Team includes: Kacey Skurja (Scenic Design), Sam Martin (Costume Design), Chris Lubik (Lighting Design), Justin Graziani (Sound Design) and Cara Mitchel (Stage Manager).
The Cast includes BFA Acting majors John Manning, Conor Donnally, Jennifer Sapozhnikov, Shavana Clarke, Scott Redmond, Sarah Jensen, Mikaila Baca-Dorion, and Benjamin Senkowski.
Please call 860-486-2113 for tickets or for more information. Please call or visit the box office for specific show dates and times because performance schedules vary and are subject to change. Tickets available online at www.crt.uconn.edu.
Box Office Location – Please note that the CRT box office is now housed in the Nafe Katter Theatre, located at 820 Bolton Road. There is short term parking on Bolton Road, in the loading zone directly in front of the theatre. CRT tickets can no longer be purchased at the Jorgensen box office. CRT’s box office is open Monday-Friday, noon – 5 p.m., and will also be open one hour prior to show time at the theatre where the performance is taking place.
Weeknight evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. Weekend evening performances start at 8 p.m. Matinee performances start at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices range from $7 – $30.
CRT is the professional producing arm of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. CRT productions are directed, designed by, and cast with visiting professional artists, including Equity actors, faculty members, and the department’s most advanced student artists. The synergy between professional and advanced student artists creates extraordinary theatre and a unique learning environment.