If I were composing a list of my favorite memories from college, performing a sexually-charged scene from Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9
with a confused and timid business major in my Introduction to Drama class would not be on it. Then again, nothing about this play is meant to be comfortable. Cloud 9
is one of those unique and brilliant plays that at once has the power to challenge a performer, captivate an audience member, and enthrall a reader. Churchill manages to provide shrewd commentary into topics like feminism, queerism, racial tension, colonial power structures, and (lots of) sex… all crammed into this two-act play. Her forward-thinking insight seems that much more impressive when you realize she conceived this play more than 35 years ago. Even the basic organization of the work is progressive, with a fluid structural shift between the acts, actors playing oppositional genders and races, and an overall departure from the routine form of realism. Churchill found a way to defy layers of norms while confounding a historically reinforced status quo. A lover of theatre knows that often, it’s good to step out of your comfort zone. Reading Cloud 9
, however, might push you from it and lock you out.
— Anna Troiano, marketing associate