Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine Floated by Yale School of Drama

These are transformative times on Yale stages. The Yale Repertory Theatre is producing Marie Jones’ Stones in His Pockets Jan. 25 through Feb. 16. The undergraduate staged-reading troupe Moonshine & Lion is blending memoir and whimsy in an intimate “series of short, delightful pieces of dramatical semi-fictitious works of theater” Jan. 17 at a venue yet to be announced. (Check for details.) The Yale Cabaret has several adaptive, interpretative and openly collaborative shows on its spring slate.

And, most world-shifting and style-swooping of all, the next Yale School of Drama show is a welcome new look at Caryl Churchill’s breakthrough international hit of 1979, Cloud Nine. The play attacks colonialism, chauvinism, outdated moral codes and even tired conventions of playwriting. Characters in the first act—which is full of arch comic stereotypes—grow up and loosen up for the second act, where the roles are played by different actors than they were previously. Some roles are cast against gender, or age.

One could write a dissertation, perhaps, on the fact that all three Yale School of Drama shows this academic year have involved first and second acts which are separated by major shifts of time and place, not to mention significant changes in casting. First up was director Jack Tamburelli and playwright Benjamin Fainstein’s Iphigenia Among the Stars, connecting two Euripides plays about the mythic princess Then came Ethan Heard’s ambitious production of Sondheim & Lapine’s Sunday in the Park With George, a show about artistic expression which takes place in late 19th century France then zips a century forward and an ocean away to 1980s New York City. Cloud Nine sets its first act in British-ruled Africa in Victorian times, and its second act in contemporary England. The first half is self-consciously funny. The second half is more reflective and revelatory.

Cloud Nine is directed by Margaret Bordelon and is the culminating project of her three years as a student in the directing program at the Yale School of Drama. The show runs for six performances over five days, Jan. 22-25 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 26 at 2 & 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $10.

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