UB Department of Theatre and Dance to Present Victorian Parody "Cloud 9"

By Kelli Bocock-Natale

Release Date: October 18, 2001

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo's Department of Theatre and Dance will present "Cloud 9," Nov. 14-18 in the Black Box Theatre of the Center for the Arts on the North (Amherst) Campus.

"Cloud 9" is a parody and spoof of the Victorian Empire and its rigid attitudes, especially towards sex. The cast includes Clive, a British functionary; his wife Betty, played by a man; their daughter Victoria, played by a rag doll; Clive's friend Harry, an explorer; Mrs. Sauders, who runs about dressed in a riding habit; Clive's son Edward, who still plays with dolls and is played by a woman, and Joshua, a native servant who knows exactly what is going on.

What really is going on is a marvelous send-up and a non-stop round robin of sexual liaisons, while the natives are restless in the background. The second act shifts to London in 1980 -- although for the play's characters it is only 25 years later and all those repressed sexual longings have evaporated along with the Empire.

The play is written by British playwright, Caryl Churchill, whose political perspective and experimentation with theatrical forms has made her one of the most important contemporary female playwrights in Britain. Her writing focuses on issues of class and economics and their effect on women. Churchill has written plays in extended workshop processes with the directors and actors of two British theater groups: Monstrous Regiment and Joint Stock. Her work with Monstrous Regiment resulted in "Vinegar Tom" (1976), a powerful play about the European burning of witches. Churchill's association with Joint Stock resulted in her most famous play, "Cloud 9" (1979), about the relationship of colonialism and gender oppression. Its off-Broadway staging by American theater director and choreographer Tommy Tune won Churchill a 1980 Obie Award, the off-Broadway honor given by the Village Voice newspaper).

"Cloud 9" will be directed by Jerry Finnegan and will include an all student cast. Performances will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 14, 15 and 16; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Nov. 17, and 6 p.m. Nov. 18.

Tickets for "Cloud 9" are $5 for all seats, and may be purchased from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the Center for the Arts Box Office and at all Ticketmaster locations, including Kaufmann's and Movies Plus. To charge tickets, call 852-5000; in Canada, call 416-870-8000. For group sales, call 645-6771. For general information call 645-ARTS.