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Antaeus takes on Caryl Churchill’s Obie Award-winning,
outrageously funny ‘Cloud 9’ beginning March 10
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (Feb. 2, 2016) — Sex and gender. Race and power. Politics and family. Plus Queen Victoria! Antaeus Theatre Company presents Caryl Churchill’s outrageous, hilarious and bitingly satirical Cloud 9 in a fully partner-cast production. Casey Stangl directs for a March 10 opening at the Antaeus Theater in NoHo, with low-priced previews beginning March 3.
A no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners carnal romp, Cloud 9 boasts one of the most convoluted dramatic structures in contemporary theater. Starting out in the wilds of 19th century colonial Africa, then jumping a hundred years to 1970s London, the play features male characters played by women, female characters played by men, a dutiful matron who morphs into a vulnerable gay man and a patriarchal husband who becomes a mischievous five-year-old girl.
“Who is the person under the person the world sees?” asks Stangl, who became a life-long Churchill fan when she saw the original New York production over three decades ago. “This play theatricalizes the idea that who we really are is often different from the external package. The idea that some people don’t belong and are somehow ‘other’ is still so relevant to so many issues we face today.”
While Churchill shakes things up by requiring each actor to play one role in Act 1 and a very different one in Act 2, Antaeus adds yet another layer of complexity with its tradition of partner casting. At alternating performances, Bill Brochtrup and JD Cullum share the role of Betty in Act 1, then dive into Edward in Act 2, complemented by Gigi Bermingham and Deborah Puette as Edward in the first act and Betty in the second. Meanwhile, Bo Foxworth and Adam J. Smith partner as Clive and Cathy, Liza de Weerd and Joanna Strapp double as Maud and Victoria, Graham Hamilton and David DeSantos share Harry and Martin, Chad Borden and John Allee play Joshua and Gerry, and Laura Wernette and Abigail Marks take on Ellen, Mrs. Saunders and Lin.
“Caryl Churchill faces issues of sex, gender, politics and power fearlessly, and she’s hilarious while she does it,” note Antaeus co-artistic directors Bill Brochtrup, Rob Nagle and John Sloan. “Our 2014 production of ‘Top Girls’ proved just how far-sighted and ahead of its time Churchill’s writing is, and why we consider her works to be modern classics.”
Cloud 9 was written during the 1970s, at the height of the women’s movement, gay liberation and the sexual revolution, and inspired by improvisations, interviews and case studies gathered while Churchill was working as a tutor for the Royal Court Young People’s Theatre Scheme. It was first performed by the Joint Stock Theatre Group at Dartington College of Arts in February 1979, then toured and transferred to the Royal Court Theatre in London before being staged in New York, where it garnered the 1982 Obie Award for playwriting for Churchill as well as Obies for director Tommy Tune and performer E. Katherine Kerr.
Scenic design for Cloud 9 is by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz; lighting design is by Leigh Allen; costume design is by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg; wig design is by Jessica Mills; original music and sound design is by Peter Bayne; props design is by Jenny Smith Cohn; the assistant director is Rachel Berney Needleman; and the production stage manager is Kristin Weber.
Caryl Churchill started her career writing radio and television dramas for the BBC. Her first stage play, Owners, premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre, where she became the resident dramatist from 1974-1975. During the 1970s and 1980s, Churchill worked with numerous theater companies, including Joint Stock and Monstrous Regiment. She has won three Obie Awards — for Cloud 9 (1979), Top Girls (1982), and Serious Money (1987) — and two Susan Smith Blackburn prizes — for Fen (1984) and Serious Money. During the 1990s and 2000s, she continued to write plays and more experimental works such as Hotel (1997), a collaborative sung ballet set in a hotel room, and Love and Information (2012), an experimental collage of 100 characters performing over 50 short, fragmentary episodes.
Antaeus is a cooperative theater ensemble founded to empower the actor and to bring classical theater to Southern California. The company exists to create a family of artists and audiences and is dedicated to exploring stories with enduring themes. Taking their company name from the Titan who gained strength by touching the Earth, Antaeus members — many of whom are familiar to film and television audiences — regain their creative strength by returning to the wellspring of their craft: live theater. Members of the company span a wide range of age, ethnicity and experience; they have performed on Broadway, at major regional theaters across the country, in film, television and on local stages, and are the recipients of numerous accolades and awards. Audiences, who never see an understudy due to Antaeus’ trademark “partner casting,” frequently return to see the same play in the hands of an equally excellent but very different set of actors.
The company is currently in the process of raising money to convert a Glendale storefront into a cultural arts center with more room to house its theater productions and other programming, including its free ClassicsFest reading series, Playwrights Lab, and acclaimed arts education and outreach programs for students, educators and audience members that connect the essentially human elements in classical texts to contemporary issues and ideas. Seventy-five percent of the funding required for the renovation has already been contributed to Antaeus’ “Play On!” capital campaign by the board, company members and private donors. A crowdfunding campaign is scheduled to launch in mid-February to raise the remaining funds. For more information about the move and the Kickstarter campaign, go to www.antaeus.org/support-us/play-on/.
Performances of Cloud 9 take place March 10 through April 24 on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. (no matinee performance on Saturday, March 12). Talkbacks are scheduled following select Thursday performances: call or visit the website for details. Six preview performances take place March 3 through March 9. Tickets are $30 on Thursdays and Fridays (except March 10 and March 11 which are $34 and include a post-performance reception), and $34 on Saturdays and Sundays. Preview tickets are priced at $15. The Antaeus Theatre Company is located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood, CA 91601. Parking is available for $8 in the lot at 5125 Lankershim Blvd. (west side of the street), just south of Magnolia. The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call 818-506-1983 or go to www.antaeus.org.
Details for Calendar Listings
Cloud 9 — Caryl Churchill’s hilarious, Obie Award-winning play, a modern classic, fractures the conventional comedy in a wickedly funny, take-no-prisoners carnal romp. In the wilds of 19th century Africa, the colonizers are restless in more ways than one. Friends and family flirt and fumble with power, gender and sexuality, hilariously pushing against the boundaries of Victorian imperialism. Fast forward 100 years to the concrete jungle of London, where the Victorian legacy finally explodes in a blast of sexual awakening, self-acceptance and delectable humor. Presented by Antaeus Theatre Company in a fully partner-cast production.
• Written by Caryl Churchill
• Directed by Casey Stangl
• Starring John Allee, Gigi Bermingham, Chad Borden, Bill Brochtup, JD Cullum, David DeSantos, Liza de Weerd, Bo Foxworth, Graham Hamilton, Abigail Marks, Deborah Puette, Adam J. Smith, Joanna Strapp, Laura Wernette
• Presented by Antaeus Theatre Company
Previews: March 3-9
Performances: March 10-April 24
• Tuesday at 8 p.m.: March 8 ONLY (preview)
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: March 9 ONLY (preview)
• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: March 3 (preview), 10 (opening), 17*, 24*, 31*; April 7*, 14*, 21*
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: March 4 (preview), 11 (opening), 18, 25; April 1, 8, 15, 22
• Saturdays at 2 p.m.: March 19, 26; April 2, 9, 16, 23 (no 2 p.m. perf. on March 5 or 12)
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: March 5 (preview), 12, 19, 26; April 2, 9, 16, 23
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: March 6 (preview), 13, 20, 27; April 3, 17, 24
Talkbacks scheduled following select Thursday performances: call or visit the website for details.
Antaeus Theatre Company
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood CA, 91601
(1½ bocks south of Magnolia)
$8 in the lot at 5125 Lankershim Blvd. (west side of the street), just south of Magnolia.
• Opening Night performances on March 10 & March 11: $34 (includes post-performance reception)
• Thursdays and Fridays: $30 (except March 10 & March 11)
• Saturdays and Sundays: $34
• Previews: $15
Recommended for mature audiences