BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College Visual and Performing Arts Department will present “Cloud 9,” a comedy about power, politics, family, the Victorian Empire and sex. The play will be presented Dec. 3-5 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 6 at 2 p.m.
This gender-bending, time-bending comedy by Caryl Churchill sets Act I in colonial Africa and Act II in 1980 London. But for the characters only twenty-five years have passed. In both settings, the play spoofs the rigid Victorian attitudes about sex. Many of the actors play two parts – often of the opposite gender.
Clive (Max Hardt of Bethany, West Virginia) is a British official who is married to Betty (Elias Stebbins of Washington, Pennsylvania). Clive’s friend Harry (Tim Zurcher of Uhrichsville, Ohio) is an explorer, an icon of British manhood and object of Betty’s lust. Clive’s son, Edward (Ashley Taylor of Wakeman, Ohio), openly plays with dolls. A widowed neighbor, Mrs. Saunders (Taylor Ferko of Munhall, Pennsylvania) is fixated on guns and whips while Clive is fixated on her. Joshua (Mike Lyons of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania), a native servant, is the only one who really knows what’s going on—which is a constant round robin of sexual liaisons.
The play is being directed by Luke Hardt, Director of Bethany College Theatre. “The Theatre students picked this play for themselves, although I’ve wanted to produce it for a long time,” Hardt said.
“When it first came out, it was considered groundbreaking for its theatrical examination of fluid gender. It remains notable now 35 years later because it probably contributed to the mainstreaming of the topic we see now. Although there is no nudity, the situations and the language are comically graphic. We’re having a blast pushing the envelope, but it’s up to our audience to let us know if it is still shocking.”
Additional cast members include Jess Donato (Cranberry, Pennsylvania) as Maud and Lin, Toshia Rush as Ellen and the soldier (Alum Bank, Pennsylvania). Ashley Phipps (North Huntington, Pennsylvania) is assistant director, and Jamie Holland (North Canton, Ohio) is stage manager.
Due to adult content in “Cloud 9,” parents are advised not to bring young children. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. Reservations are strongly encouraged. To reserve a seat for the show, call (304) 829-7124.
Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.