March 3, 2017

Heights Living

Business Name: Jobsite Theater
First Name: David
Last Name: Jenkins
Where is the event? (Location & Address): Cloud Nine, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 NWC MacInnes Pl.
Zip / Post Code: 33602
Phone: (813) 229-7827
What is the date(s) of your event?: July 12 – Aug. 6
What time does your event start?: 8pm Thursdays through Saturdays, 4pm Sundays
What time does your event end?: 10:15 Thursdays through Saturdays, 6:15 Sundays.
Description: 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 (if those were even around then) 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. 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.

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.