Cloud 9 Play Preview

The UVa-Wise Theatre Department invites students, faculty, and the public to the production of Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud 9” starting March 18 at 8 pm.

“Cloud 9” was workshopped with the Joint Stock Theatre Department in 1978. The play touches on hegemonic masculinity, hegemonic femininity, gender roles, and homosexual desire. Michael Hunt, Assistant Professor of Theatre and play director, explained why he chose this play for the Theatre Department.

“I’ve always liked this play, I think it is really funny,” said Hunt. “The second half is bitterly sad in a lot of ways. It is a reflection on how the past has screwed us.”

Cloud 9 is a two act play. The first act can be explained as an English musical that is examining cultural imperialism. The second half is an examination on how all the events that take place in act one affect the people in act two. The interesting part of Cloud 9 is the 75-year time lapse between act one and act two. Some of the characters from act one are also in act two, having aged only twenty-five years.

The characters are complex, with some female roles played by males and vice versa, and the same seven actors playing very different parts in each act. Hunt feels that the students are well prepared.

“It is very difficult for young actors because it demands a lot of emotional awareness and a lot of life experience that they simply do not have,” said Hunt. “The funny scenes right now are sort of awkward.”

When asked how auditions went for “Cloud 9”, Hunt explained that he believes the actors and actresses are in the right roles.

“We cast people based on what they need to work on as opposed to what they want,” Hunt said. “People are always mystified; they always think that we have favorites and that you get a part by being liked. We are in educational theatre, so we are trying to help people develop skill sets.”

The challenging part Hunt finds as director is leaving the script alone. He said that Caryl Churchill wrote the script in a way where it does not need to be altered. The script gives audience members a glimpse at a time before the AIDS crisis struck.

“The play is a document of that time, as well as this time,” said Hunt”

Four students will be starring in Cloud 9 as part of their senior capstone: Laken Branson, Robert Torres, Heather Marchant, and Forrest Duncan.

“People very often think that acting is easy, but a lot of work goes into it,” said Hunt. “These students are rehearsing twenty hours a week. Theatre is tough.”

“Cloud 9” premieres March 18 at the Gilliam Center for the Arts at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. showing on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. Additional 8 p.m. performances are scheduled on March, 19, 24, 25 and 26.

For information, email Michael Hunt at

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