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 that 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 theater 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

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