Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

SDSU Theatre’s “Cloud 9” Asks, Are We “Suppressing Our True Identities?”

The School of Theatre, Television, and Film presents both a parody and spoof on the Victorian Empire, exploring gender identity and power dynamics in race. “Cloud 9” is an Arts Alive SDSU Discovery Series Event.

SDSU Theatre’s “Cloud 9” Asks, Are We “Suppressing Our True Identities?”

Cloud 9

by Gabriela Romero

February 9, 2021

“Am I living my truth?” Director Jesca Prudencio challenges us to ask ourselves this question in “Cloud 9” by Caryl Churchill, the newest production of the SDSU School of Theatre, Television, and Film. It’s a marvelous send-up and non-stop round-robin of sexual liaisons that is both parody and spoof of the Victorian Empire and its rigid attitudes.

“Cloud 9” will be presented via live webinar on Feb. 13, 16, 17, 18 and 19 at 7 p.m., and Feb. 14 and 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 general admission, and are available for purchase on the school’s website.

Featuring THEA 446C students, and MFA Designers and Technical crew, the play delves into issues including racism, gender identity, and sexual orientation, but ultimately, it is about finding your authentic self.

Reflecting on the play, Prudencio says “any tension, violence, or hate in this satire stems from the fact that the characters are not able to be their true selves. They have identities, desires, and feelings that they suppress resulting in the conflicts that arise.”

Prudencio continues, “as an artist and professor, authenticity is something I strive for in collaborators and students. It is a difficult journey surrounded by so many voices and influences, but once we figure this out, then we can live with intention.”

THEA 446C provides students with public performance opportunities, and despite the pandemic halting in-person production, Prudencio says that “making art is all about responding to our current world and adapting.”

With the use of some exciting media technologies, this production will look unlike any Zoom production one has ever seen before.

“It is fully designed with costumes, lights, and media, and all performed remotely, safely at home, live. I have embraced this new virtual era of theatre with open arms and so have my incredible cast and designers” Prudencio explains.

Haley Mechelle, a graduating senior with a performance emphasis says, “the challenge of character development and bonding with my castmates has to be my favorite part. Not only are we all doing two different dialects in two different eras, but we also tackle completely different characters in each act. Seeing each one of us go down that tunnel of exploration while boosting each other up is an irreplaceable feeling.”

“I hope everyone laughs, cries, cries from laughing and enjoys “Cloud 9” as much as we loved creating it,” Mechelle says.

Although the play takes place in 1880 and 1980, its themes resonate in modern-day.

Prudencio says she hopes that audiences “release tension with laughter, using new media innovations combining film with live theatre in a virtual space led by MFA Integrated Media designer McKenna Perry, and think about the unsettling truth of the past and present.”

For tickets to “Cloud 9” live via webinar, visit the play’s webpage.

“Cloud 9” is an Arts Alive SDSU Discovery Series event, and on Monday, Feb. 15 at 10:00 a.m., Arts Alive SDSU will present an interdisciplinary panel conversation inspired by “Cloud 9.” Professor Jesca Prudencio, Professor Antwanisha Alameen-Shavers, and the Old Globe’s Associate Artistic Director, Freedome Bradley-Ballentine, will explore the concept of “theatricalizing issues.” Talking across disciplines, they will discuss how theatrical parody can address pressing social justice issues like gender, sexual identity, colonialism, and racial politics. The panel discussion is free with registration.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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