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Cloud 9 is a thought-provoking spectacle

Theatre UCF opens Caryl Churchill’s time shifting comedy Cloud 9 on Thursday, November 10, in UCF’s Black Box theater. The play, a parody of the Victorian Empire’s sexual rigidity, runs through November 20.

Cloud 9 takes place in Colonial Africa in the first act, and later moves to a modern London. The play focuses heavily on the themes of identity, roles and gender, all of which director Dr. Julia Listengarten is excited to showcase.

“The overall theme of the play has to do with role play—we all play roles and have expectations that are put on us by others,” explains Listengarten. “My goal is to make the audience think about what exactly they’re seeing on stage, and why these characters are played by actors outside of their type. For example, when you see a cross-gender performance, we’re not trying to hide anything. You’re supposed to see a man embodying a female character—you get a dual perspective.”

For BFA acting senior Helena Whittaker, who plays the roles of Edward (Act One) and Betty (Act Two), Cloud 9 has been a new and exciting experience.

“It’s been very fun and very challenging to explore the different characters we play,” she says. The material is startling and funny and shocking and provocative. So it’s been really cool to explore that kind of theatre as an ensemble. I think it’s the first time really any of us have delved into that kind of text.”

Listengarten and sound designer Tara Kromer have also added selections of music throughout the show to add depth to the play. BFA musical theatre junior Benjamin Walton is the music director.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve music directed something, but it is the first time that I’ve been doing it without a supervisor,” said Walton. “It’s been a lot of trial and error finding out what I like as a director and how to best run our music rehearsals to get the most out of our time. After each rehearsal, I can go back and see what worked that day and what didn’t, so it’s been a great learning experience.”

Cloud 9 is light-hearted yet serious, absurd yet realistic. Whittaker adds, “The third act of this play is the conversation you have afterwards.”

Patrons will have an opportunity to discuss the play with Listengarten, members of the cast and two faculty members from the Philosophy department, Dr. Claudia Schippert and Dr. Shelley Park immediately following the Wednesday, November 16 performance. The talk is free and no ticket is required.

Cloud 9 contains mature language and themes, including a proliferation of swear words, sexual innuendos, racial epithets, alcohol consumption, and brief violence. The script uses deliberate casting to question the audience’s expectations of gender, race, and age. It is best suited for ages 17 and up.

Tickets for Cloud 9 are $20.00 for adults and $10.00 for students. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling or visiting the box office Monday-Friday, noon-5:00 pm, at 407-823-1500.

For more information about Theatre UCF and the UCF School of Performing Arts, visit

Cloud 9
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Julia Listengarten
Set in British Colonial Africa and 1970s London, this modern classic comedy addresses race, gender, power, politics, family, and sex.
“Intelligent, inventive and funny.” – The New York Times
“I really don’t know when I’ve had more fun. It blends farce, pathos into a work of total theatre.” – New York Daily News
November 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19 at 7:30 pm
November 13, 20 at 2:00 pm
A post-show reception will immediately follow the November 10 performance.
A post-show discussion will immediately follow the November 16 performance.
$20 standard, $10 UCF ID
Black Box, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., Orlando
[email protected]

The School of Performing Arts at the University of Central Florida comprises the Music and Theatre departments. In addition to year-round performances and teaching on the UCF campus, the School presents performances and outreach in cooperation with our community partners, which include the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orlando Repertory Theatre, and the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. For more information about attending performances visit

America’s Partnership University: The University of Central Florida, one of the nation’s largest universities, has grown in size, quality, diversity and reputation in its first 50 years. Today, the university offers more than 200 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations. UCF is an economic engine attracting and supporting industries vital to the region’s future while providing students with real-world experiences that help them succeed after graduation. For more information, visit