＊ Born in London on September 3, 1938. ＊ She grew up in England and Canada. ＊ Churchill's writing focuses on issues of class and economics and their effect on women. In 1960, she received a BA in English from Oxford University.She wrote three plays: Downstairs, You've No Need to be Frightened, and Having a Wonderful Time. After graduation, she began to write radio plays for the BBC. Including The Ants (1962), Not, Not, Not, Not Enough Oxygen (1971), and Schreber's Nervous Illness (1972). Her first professionally produced play was Owners (1972) at the Royal Court Theatre in London. source
Churchill has written plays in extended workshop processes with the directors and actors of two British theater groups: Monstrous Regiment and Joint Stock. While working with Joint Stock and Monstrous Regiment, Churchill wrote a number of successful plays including Light Shining on Buckinghamshire (1976), Vinegar Tom (1976), Cloud Nine (1979), and A Mouthful of Birds (1986). Churchill's association with Joint Stock resulted in her most famous play, Cloud 9 (1979), about the relationship of colonialism and gender oppression. source
Churchill's remarkable career continues to develop, her plays seem to be growing more and more sparse and less and less inhibited by realism. In The Skriker (1994), she utilizes an associative dream logic which some critics found to be nonsensical. Churchill married David Harter in 1961 and has three sons. Her awards include three Obie Award (1982, 1983 & 1988) and a Society of West End Theatre Award (1988). source
Act I - Characters Clive - Betty’s husband, a British aristocrat, a racist, have an affair with Mrs. Sauders Betty - Clive’s wife, played by a man, indecisive, dreams of relationship with Harry Joshua - An African native, Clive’s servant, played by a white, negation of his own race Harry - Clive’s friend, a British explore, homosexuality, sexual leanings of the members of Clive’s family
Act I - Characters Mrs. Saunders - A widow, objective, having an affair with Clive Edward - Clive’s son, played by a woman, proclivity to feminine things, attraction to males Victoria - Clive’s daughter, played by a dummy Maud - Betty’s mother, a traditionalist, believes that women are meant to serve husband and home Ellen - Edward’s governess, fond of Betty
Act I – Summary (1) The main characters of Clive ’ s family welcome the audience to his African home with a song paying tribute to England. Clive returns home after managing the troubles among local tribes. Betty greets him and they swap stories about their days' experiences. When Clive learns that Joshua has been rude to Betty, he scolds Joshua. After this scolding, Clive greets the rest of his family, asking his children about their daily activities. Then the family welcomes Harry Bagley and Mrs. Saunders. Harry, an explorer, visits the family between expeditions. Mrs. Saunders, a widow, arrives exhausted, seeking protection from the natives. Betty and Harry flirt, revealing their attraction for one another. Later, Harry asks Joshua to have sex with him, and they leave for the barn together.
Act I – Summary (2) Clive chases Mrs. Saunders away from the house and performs oral sex on her. At the Christmas picnic, Clive and Harry toss a ball with Edward. The game of ball gives way to a game of hide and seek, during which Edward and Harry reveal that they have a sexual history. Edward hopes to rekindle this relationship, but Harry is hesitant to approve. Meanwhile, Ellen professes her love for Betty. Betty dismisses Ellen's comments as ridiculous. Later, Clive and the men flog the natives as the women wait inside the house. Ellen becomes angry with Edward for playing with a doll and slaps him. When Clive returns from the flogging, Edward apologizes for playing with the doll and asks his father for forgiveness. When all but Betty and Clive leave for the verandah, Clive tells Betty that he knows about her affair with Harry and then he forgives her.
Act I – Summary (3) As tension grows among the natives, Clive finds a moment alone with Harry telling about the increasing dangers. Harry makes a pass at Clive. Seeking a cure for Harry's perversity, Clive attempts to marry Harry to Mrs. Saunders. She refuses it. News that Joshua's parents have been killed by British troops distracts Clive momentarily. Then Clive forces an engagement between Harry and Ellen. At the wedding party, Mrs. Saunders announces that she is leaving, but before she can exit, Clive kisses her, prompting a fight between Mrs. Saunders and Betty. Disgusted at Mrs. Saunders behavior, Clive kicks her out of the house. When Clive goes to toast the newly engaged couple, Joshua raises a gun to shoot Clive. Edward sees this action, but does not warn Clive.
Act Ⅱ - Characters Betty - Played by an old woman, acquires sense of independence Victoria - Betty’s daughter, search for her own identity Lin - A brash lesbian, uncertain about being a mother, fond of Victoria Cathy - Lin’s daughter, played by a man, using aggressive language
Act Ⅱ - Characters Martin - Victoria’s husband, Sex-obsessed, self-righteous Edward - Betty’s son, played by a man, homosexual, fits well into the role of mother and wife Gerry - Edward’s lover, a promiscuous homosexual, distaste for commitment Tommy - Victoria’s son
Act Ⅱ - Summary (1) Victoria appears in a London park on a winter afternoon with Lin and Cathy. When Cathy exits to play elsewhere, Lin informs Victoria that she is a lesbian, and she asks Victoria to go to a movie with her. Edward, now a gardener, joins the two women, followed by Betty. Betty also mentions that she is considering leaving Clive. Betty lets Cathy play with her jewelry. In the spring, Edward's lover Gerry comes to the park, where they argue about Gerry's lack of commitment. Victoria returns to the park with her husband Martin, who speaks about sex and his desire to please Victoria. Lin enters when Martin leaves and tells Victoria that her brother, a soldier, has died in Belfast. When Lin and Cathy get into a fight, they lose track of Victoria's son Tommy. A brief panic ensues before they find him. Gerry and Edward return, and Gerry breaks up with Edward.
Act Ⅱ - Summary (2) On a summer night, Lin, Victoria, and Edward come to the park to hold a ceremony for a sex goddess. Martin arrives and they pull him into the orgy. Moments later, Lin's dead brother appears and relates the experience of his service in the army. Lin collapses when her brother disappears. Characters from Africa begin to make brief appearances, interacting with the London characters. By late summer, Lin, Victoria, and Edward have moved in together. Betty has rediscovered the joy of masturbation. Gerry and Edward reconcile and make plans to go out some time. On a trip to get ice cream, the Dead Hand Gang assaults Cathy. Martin and Lin fight over who was supposed to be looking after Cathy. All but Gerry and Betty leave. In her discussion with Gerry, Betty comes to terms with the fact that Edward is homosexual. Betty from Africa returns and embraces the new Betty.
On September 23rd through the 26th 1999, Clemson University's Theatre Department performed Caryl Churchill's play Cloud 9 at Clemson's Brooks Theatre.
Costume Designers for Cloud 9 The costumes let the audience be transported back into the time period of the play and to get a better understanding of the dress of that time.
In the first act, the setting is Africa in 1879 In this time period, the dress was traditionally Victorian which can consist of hoop skirts, tight bodices, knee high socks, and riding outfits. So this part is difficult. Many pieces of costumes had to be made by hand.
In the second act, the setting is London in 1979. This would be standard contemporary dress. So dressing the actors was a little easier.
Cross-dressing In the play, there are men playing women and vise versa. The director wanted the audience to recognize the actors by their face, not by the type of costume they wore when they were the previous character.
Costumes of Characters in Act 1 The director wanted Act 1 costumes to be bright because of the mood.
Interesting Information The hardest costumes were Lin and Gerry in Act 2 (She did not want them to look like the stereotypical homosexual) Women shoes that fit men sizes are very hard to find Casts (in general) usually do not like the costumes (The cast for Cloud 9 has been really great in accepting the costumes.)
Themes Colonial OppressionColonial Oppression Sexual OppressionSexual Oppression ViolenceViolence Sex and Gender The Quest for Identity
The Sets on the Stage Act I takes place in Africa, roughly during the 1870's, the British Victorian era. During this time period, British colonialism was still in full swingAct I takes place in Africa, roughly during the 1870's, the British Victorian era. During this time period, British colonialism was still in full swing. Act II takes place in London around 1979. By this time period, British colonialism had all but completely deflated, but other forms of repression remained. Homosexuals, though far from completely welcome, had established a presence in the cultural landscape of British society. Divorce had become acceptable, and women had gained new freedoms and greater status.Act II takes place in London around 1979. By this time period, British colonialism had all but completely deflated, but other forms of repression remained. Homosexuals, though far from completely welcome, had established a presence in the cultural landscape of British society. Divorce had become acceptable, and women had gained new freedoms and greater status.
Colonial Oppression CLIVE had those Stable boys flogged. CLIVE: It’s my duty to have them flogged…, to keep you safe. CLIVE: You can tame a wild animal only so far... Sometimes I feel the natives are the enemy. … Implacable. This whole continent is my enemy. I am pitching my whole mind and will and reason and spirit against it to tame it,…. (p. 33) *CLIVE made JOSHUA flog those stable boys, and he thought it’s necessary to do so.*CLIVE made JOSHUA flog those stable boys, and he thought it’s necessary to do so.
Colonial Oppression The British Soldiers oppressed the African natives CLIVE:... Harry, there was trouble last night…. But it’s all over now. Everything is under control…. CLIVE: … We did a certain amount of damage, set a village on fire and so forth. CLIVE: … The army will come and visit, …. to see the British army?… (p. 37)
Colonial Oppression The British Soldiers killed JOSHUA’s parents. MRS SAUNDERS: …. I’ve just found Joshua putting earth on his head. He tells me his parents were killed last night by the British soldiers. I think you owe him an apology on behalf of the Queen. (p. 41) *Then JOSHUA shot CLIVE at HARRY’s and ELLEN’s wedding.
Sexual Oppression CLIVE forbad EDWARD playing with a doll. CLIVE: What’s that you’re holding? BETTY: It’s Victoria’s doll. … BETTY: …You don’t want papa to see you with a doll. CLIVE: Ellen minds Victoria, let Ellen mind the doll… ELLEN takes the doll. (p. 8)
Sexual Oppression CLIVE felt disgusted at HARRY for he’s a gay. CLIVE: My God, Harry, how disgusting. … HARRY: It is not a sin, it is a disease. … CLIVE: …My God, what a betrayal of the Queen. HARRY: Clive, I am like a man born crippled. … (pp 40-41) *CLIVE enforced HARRY to get married.*CLIVE enforced HARRY to get married.
Sexual Oppression ELLEN’s inner oppression. ELLEN: Betty, what happens with a man?…. BETTY: ELLEN, you’re not getting married to enjoy yourself. ELLEN: Don’t’ forget me, Betty. (p. 44) ELLEN will be oppressed in her life after she’s married because she actually loved a woman, Betty, not men. * ELLEN will be oppressed in her life after she’s married because she actually loved a woman, Betty, not men.
Violence BETTY and ELLEN slapped EDWARD. EDWARD, meanwhile, has found the doll and is playing clap hands with her. BETTY: Edward, what have you got there?… BETTY: Edward, I’ve told you before, dolls are for girls. BETTY: You must never let the boys at school know you like dolls. Never, never.... (p. 30) (continue…)
Violence BETTY: … you won’t grow up to be a man like your papa. BETTY: …. and papa will beat you. … BETTY takes the doll away, slaps him, bursts into tears. ELLEN comes in. …. She slaps EDWARD, who bursts into tears and goes out. (pp 30-31) BETTY and ELLEN slapped EDWARD because he held the doll again. EDWARD didn’t want to be a man like his father.* BETTY and ELLEN slapped EDWARD because he held the doll again. EDWARD didn’t want to be a man like his father. *CLIVE himself was not actively violent, perhaps suggesting the hypocrisy of his oppression.*CLIVE himself was not actively violent, perhaps suggesting the hypocrisy of his oppression. *He kept his hands clean by allowing others to actually carry out his wishes with violence.*He kept his hands clean by allowing others to actually carry out his wishes with violence.
Violence LIN’s and CATHY’s conversation always filled with violence. CATHY: What is it? Who’ skilled? What?…… CATHY: Can I have his gun? … CATHY: Fuck off. … LIN hits CATHY, CATHY cries. LIN: And shut up or I’ll give you something to cry for. … They are all shouting. … Then they laugh and embrace. (pp 67-68)
Violence and Sexual Oppression The violence of Act I (as CLIVE, BETTY and ELLEN did to EDWARD) reappeared in the assault on CATHY by the Dead Hand Gang. CATHY comes on howling with a nosebleed. … CATHY: Took my ice cream. CATHY: Took my money. CATHY: They hit me. I can’t play. They said I’m a girl. (p. 84)
Sex and Gender The play gets inspired from the life stories and personal sexual experiences of the theater members The great challenge of life is learning to reconcile one's upbringing and one's physical identity with one's true sexuality. cross-casting makes gender visible by separating feminine gender from the female body, ex: Betty played by a man
cross-casting also illuminates the role of socialization in the formation of gender identity, ex: young Edward trying to escape from traditional role expectations the only cross-casting of Cathy in act two involves in the issue of what is considered correct behavior for a girl, in association with Edward in Act One characters not played by opposite-sex actors have nontraditional sexual orientations ex: Harry’s sexual relationship with little Edward.
The Quest for Identity Characters’ self introduction in the beginning Characters in act one not able to act out their true feelings game of hide and seek allows them to reveal themselves Clive's value system calls for a covering of identity if that identity disrespects England Betty, Edward, and Victoria in act two continue the search for identity they face new challenges of establishing an identity in a world far different from Victorian era Africa
Embracing the act of embracing repeatedly as a physical means of demonstrating love or the lack of love, ex: Ellen embraces Betty as she expresses her love for her. Clive and Betty never embrace, suggesting the superficiality of their relationship the two Bettys embrace at the end, showing Betty has finally grown to love herself
Seasons seasonal changes parallel the self journey act two opens in winter, the sexuality of the characters are cold and dead in many ways when spring arrives in act two, scene two, people begin to come out of sexual hibernation, ex: Gerry and Edward break off their relationship, Victoria and Martin argue about the their marriage with summer comes sexual liberation, Lin, Victoria, and Edward hold an orgy in the park, and Betty rediscovers masturbation.
Betty's Necklace In Act I, the necklace represents Edward's secret defiance of his family in seeking Harry's love In Act II, the necklace symbolizes Betty's connection with the past
Guns first used as an indication of the violence of Clive's world Ironically, the system that Clive sets up eventually brings about his death at the end of Act One. symbol of power in Act Two: Lin arms Cathy with toy guns to give Cathy status that Lin never had as a little girl.
Dolls a symbol of submissive femininity in Act One Victoria in Act One who’s played by a doll/dummy implies Clive's idea of how women should be. Edward’s playing with the doll foreshadows his playing a submissive role in a homosexual relationship Joshua’s act of cutting the doll suggests his betrayal against Clive
Betty : “But if there isn't a right way to do things you have to invent one.”
Study Questions Discuss Churchill's choice to have actors play characters opposite their own sex. What are the theatrical and thematic implications of this choice? How do the characters change from act one to act two? What cause them to change? Discuss Betty's rediscovery of masturbation. How does this relate to her search for identity?
Works Cited Caryl Churchill. Cloud 9 Study Guide. 24 May 2006. Caryl Churchill. MSN Encarta. 24 May 2006. Caryl Churchill. 24 May 2006. “Caryl Churchill”. 24 May 2006. Churchill, Caryl. Cloud 9. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1985. Cloud 9 at Clemson University. 24 May 2006. Kritzer, Amelia Howe. The Plays of Caryl Churchill. New York: Palgrave, 1991.