Cloud Nine

By Caryl Churchill

Directed by Gavin Hawk

Jul. 14 – Aug. 6, 2017

Tickets: $28

Preview Performances: Jul. 12 – 13 | Tickets: $14

Shimberg Playhouse, Straz Center for the Performing Arts

Caryl Churchill’s farcical, gender-bending, timey-wimey Cloud Nine is a hilarious comedy that will leave you with loads to think about. Churchill likes to mix things up get rid of any preconceived notions about gender, sexuality, romance, or “lifestyle!” Cloud Nine mocks colonial and sexual repressions in a farce that employs racial and gender cross-casting to make its points.

Think of it as what Monty Python might have come up with to present at a LGBT+ Pride festival back in the 1970s. Caryl Churchill sets in motion characters whose sexual identities and alliances shift constantly. She asks audiences to accept that most of the characters make an impossible leap in time, from colonial Africa in the Victorian age to contemporary Britain. She then asks audiences to ignore the fact that certain men are played by women, certain women are played by men, children can be played by adults and that even black can be white.

This is a zany play, but one with terrific wit and humanity to it … It is a play that has something to say to us today about kindness, affection, perversion and, most of all, love.

Clive Barnes, New York Post

Caryl Churchill has become well known for her unique use of dramatic structure, often overshadowing the context of her works. She is a playwright of ideas with her primary concern being the individual’s struggle to emerge from the ensnarements of culture, class, economic systems and the imperatives of the past. Not surprisingly for a contemporary female writer, she primarily employs female characters to deal with such themes. In Cloud Nine, a parallel is suggested between Western colonial oppression and Western sexual oppression. This oppression is seen first in the family structure, then in the power of the past to influence the present.

A dramatist who surely must be amongst the best half-dozen now writing.

Benedict Nightingale

No one in Cloud Nine can successfully escape from the ghosts of established practices and traditions. Act I presents an English family living in 1879 Victorian colonial Africa. Clive, the father, is not only father to his children, but to the natives as well. To underscore this male-influenced world, Churchill uses a male actor to portray Clive’s wife Betty, since the women aspire to be like the men. Reinforcing this theme, she uses a white actor to play the part of the Joshua, their black servant who does not identify with his own people. Victoria, Clive’s daughter, is represented by a doll in the first act. Clive’s less-than-manly son, Edward, is played by a woman. Despite the race and gender of the performers, the characters become whatever the white father wishes them to be.

In Act II the colonial family has returned to England without their father and all the actors in the show switch characters. The now grown-up children and their newly-liberated matriarch seek to realize their separate identities, but freedom to be complete individuals still eludes them.

Churchill, who was once described by the Minneapolis Star and Tribune as “England’s foremost female playwright,” has always taken a playful attitude toward the conventions of both theater and society. As Frank Rich observed in The New York Times, “Churchill sees the theater as an open frontier where lives can be burst apart and explored, rather than a cage that flattens out experience and diminishes it.”

Warning

This show contains adult language, situations and subject matter and is intended for mature audiences. It’s dirty!

David M. Jenkins and Tatiana Baccari in Jobsite's Cloud Nine. (Photo courtesy Pritchard Photography.)
David M. Jenkins and Tatiana Baccari in Jobsite's Cloud Nine. (Photo by Pritchard Photography.)

Production History

Shortly after being offered residency at the Straz Center, Jobsite produced a relatively low-budget, low-profile version of Caryl Churchill’s wildly entertaining little play ion June 2003. They would have no idea that it would go on to pack the house night after night while going on to win three Best of the Bay Awards and be named a top 10 production of the year by both The Tampa Tribune and Creative Loafing. By some folks’ estimation the show was a defining moment, cementing that the company had finally arrived and proved their worth to the region.

Media

Cast & Crew

  • Gavin Hawk – Director
  • Matthew Ray – Stage Manager

Cast

  • Tatiana Baccari – Edward/Betty
  • Giles Davies – Clive/Cathy/Soldier
  • Amy Gray – Maud/Victoria
  • David Jenkins – Betty/Edward
  • Spencer Meyers – Joshua/Gerry
  • Katrina Stevenson – Ellen/Mrs. Saunders/Lin
  • Hugh Timoney – Harry Bagley/Martin

Crew

  • Jo Averill-Snell – Lighting Designer
  • Jerid Fox – Scenic and Properties Designer
  • Isabella Mencia – Assistant Stage Manager
  • Katrina Stevenson – Costume Designer
  • Jessica Uphold – Assistant Stage Manager

2003 Cast & Crew

  • Ami Sallee – Director
  • John Hagner – Stage Manager

Cast

  • Summer Bohnenkamp – Ellen/Betty
  • Jason Evans – Harry/Martin
  • David M. Jenkins – Clive/Cathy
  • Michael C. McGreevy – Joshua/Edward
  • Shawn Paonessa – Betty/Gerry
  • Brandy Pedersen – Edward/Victoria
  • Katrina Stevenson – Maud/Lin

Crew

  • Dickie Corley – Set Designer
  • Brian M. Smallheer – Light Designer
  • Kevin Spooner – Composer

Patron Reviews

  • SO AMAZING ... We were truly blown away … other than Disenchanted, which I think will always be my favorite because I mean, angry women and all, this was right up there among our favorites!! – Jamie Klingman
  • A review of Jobsite’s production of “Cloud Nine” from 2003 is still true today! “Wonderful ensemble acting, terrific direction and colorful design all combine to make Caryl Churchill’s comedy about gender a splendid success.” – Linda Brandt
  • Really enjoyed this last night. Great way to close out the season. – Kim Smallheer
  • Jobsite Theater's production of Cloud Nine is playful, poignant and not to be missed ... a re-imagining of what Creative Loafing named a “Top 10 Play of the Decade.” This one is a hit folks, don’t miss your chance to get tickets to the remaining performances! – Kim Goodman
  • We loved Cloud Nine! It's one of my favorite Jobsite Theater shows ever! What a talented cast to pull off a show that required so many character changes. Well done!!! This show definitely stands the test of time. I'd highly recommend it. – Sally Bosco
  • Enjoyed @jobsitetheater doing Cloud 9. Happy to get to see some Caryl Churchill locally see it done so well! mdash; ladriaan (@ladriaan)
  • Such a fun show. – Kristin Lohr (@mskristinknits)
  • incredible ... How do you pull off an entire season without a stinker in the whole bunch?" – Lorinda Gamson
  • excellent performances – Giles' range continues to impress. Some of his looks when playing Cathy were absolutely spot on. Spencer's eyes, especially as Gerry, kept reminding me of Andrew Scott's Moriarty, that wonderful revelation of deviance but also brilliance. But I think it was Amy Gray's Victoria that sold me on the show. Two or three times she stood right in front of my wife and me, and her expression and physicality was wonderful. We had loved her as Clarice, but this seemed better. [David's] Betty and Edward brought out the identity elements Churchill seemed to be going for, but I didn't want to sound like I was kissing-up to the Artistic Director ... thanks again for what you guys do. – Ben Graffam
  • [It] was PHENOMENAL!!! Y'ALL SLAYED!!! – Amy Howland
  • That was my favorite play we've seen at Jobsite Theater. Fast paced, funny, and great acting. Most actors played multiple characters, with many of them also switching gender. They did an amazing job of being convincing in those roles. Go see it!!! This is their final week. – Eric Holsinger
  • Excellent theatre. – Lew Sibert (@lewsiberttampa)

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