by Aska
Caryl Churchill
*Born in London on September 3, 1938.
*She grew up in England and Canada.
*Churchill's writing focuses on issues of class
and economics and their effect on women.
• In 1960, she received a BA in English from Oxford
University.She wrote three plays: Downstairs, You've No Need
to be Frightened, and Having a Wonderful Time.
• After graduation, she began to write radio plays for the BBC.
Including The Ants (1962), Not, Not, Not, Not Enough Oxygen
(1971), and Schreber's Nervous Illness (1972).
• Her first professionally produced play was Owners (1972) at the
Royal Court Theatre in London.
• Churchill has written plays in extended
workshop processes with the directors and
actors of two British theater groups: Monstrous
Regiment and Joint Stock. While working with
Joint Stock and Monstrous Regiment, Churchill
wrote a number of successful plays including
Light Shining on Buckinghamshire (1976),
Vinegar Tom (1976), Cloud Nine (1979), and A
Mouthful of Birds (1986).
• Churchill's association with Joint Stock resulted
in her most famous play, Cloud 9 (1979), about
the relationship of colonialism and gender
• Churchill's remarkable career continues to develop, her plays
seem to be growing more and more sparse and less and less
inhibited by realism. In The Skriker (1994), she utilizes an
associative dream logic which some critics found to be
• Churchill married David Harter in 1961 and has three sons.
Her awards include three Obie Award (1982, 1983 & 1988)
and a Society of West End Theatre Award (1988).
Act I - Characters
• Clive - Betty’s husband, a British aristocrat, a racist,
have an affair with Mrs. Sauders
• Betty - Clive’s wife, played by a man, indecisive,
dreams of relationship with Harry
• Joshua - An African native, Clive’s servant, played
by a white, negation of his own race
• Harry - Clive’s friend, a British explore, homosexuality,
sexual leanings of the members of Clive’s family
Act I - Characters
• Mrs. Saunders - A widow, objective, having an affair
with Clive
• Edward - Clive’s son, played by a woman, proclivity to
feminine things, attraction to males
• Victoria - Clive’s daughter, played by a dummy
• Maud - Betty’s mother, a traditionalist, believes that
women are meant to serve husband and home
• Ellen - Edward’s governess, fond of Betty
Act I – Summary (1)
The main characters of Clive’s family welcome the audience to
his African home with a song paying tribute to England. Clive
returns home after managing the troubles among local tribes.
Betty greets him and they swap stories about their days'
experiences. When Clive learns that Joshua has been rude to
Betty, he scolds Joshua. After this scolding, Clive greets the
rest of his family, asking his children about their daily activities.
Then the family welcomes Harry Bagley and Mrs. Saunders.
Harry, an explorer, visits the family between expeditions. Mrs.
Saunders, a widow, arrives exhausted, seeking protection from
the natives. Betty and Harry flirt, revealing their attraction for
one another. Later, Harry asks Joshua to have sex with him,
and they leave for the barn together.
Act I – Summary (2)
Clive chases Mrs. Saunders away from the house and performs
oral sex on her. At the Christmas picnic, Clive and Harry toss a
ball with Edward. The game of ball gives way to a game of hide
and seek, during which Edward and Harry reveal that they have a
sexual history. Edward hopes to rekindle this relationship, but
Harry is hesitant to approve. Meanwhile, Ellen professes her love
for Betty. Betty dismisses Ellen's comments as ridiculous. Later,
Clive and the men flog the natives as the women wait inside the
house. Ellen becomes angry with Edward for playing with a doll
and slaps him. When Clive returns from the flogging, Edward
apologizes for playing with the doll and asks his father for
forgiveness. When all but Betty and Clive leave for the verandah,
Clive tells Betty that he knows about her affair with Harry and
then he forgives her.
Act I – Summary (3)
As tension grows among the natives, Clive finds a moment
alone with Harry telling about the increasing dangers. Harry
makes a pass at Clive. Seeking a cure for Harry's perversity,
Clive attempts to marry Harry to Mrs. Saunders. She refuses
it. News that Joshua's parents have been killed by British
troops distracts Clive momentarily. Then Clive forces an
engagement between Harry and Ellen. At the wedding party,
Mrs. Saunders announces that she is leaving, but before she
can exit, Clive kisses her, prompting a fight between Mrs.
Saunders and Betty. Disgusted at Mrs. Saunders behavior,
Clive kicks her out of the house. When Clive goes to toast the
newly engaged couple, Joshua raises a gun to shoot Clive.
Edward sees this action, but does not warn Clive.
Act Ⅱ- Characters
• Betty - Played by an old woman, acquires sense
of independence
• Victoria - Betty’s daughter, search for her own
• Lin - A brash lesbian, uncertain about being a
mother, fond of Victoria
• Cathy - Lin’s daughter, played by a man, using
aggressive language
Act Ⅱ- Characters
• Martin - Victoria’s husband, Sex-obsessed,
• Edward - Betty’s son, played by a man, homosexual,
fits well into the role of mother and wife
• Gerry - Edward’s lover, a promiscuous
homosexual, distaste for commitment
• Tommy - Victoria’s son
Act Ⅱ - Summary (1)
Victoria appears in a London park on a winter afternoon with Lin
and Cathy. When Cathy exits to play elsewhere, Lin informs
Victoria that she is a lesbian, and she asks Victoria to go to a
movie with her. Edward, now a gardener, joins the two women,
followed by Betty. Betty also mentions that she is considering
leaving Clive. Betty lets Cathy play with her jewelry. In the
spring, Edward's lover Gerry comes to the park, where they
argue about Gerry's lack of commitment. Victoria returns to the
park with her husband Martin, who speaks about sex and his
desire to please Victoria. Lin enters when Martin leaves and
tells Victoria that her brother, a soldier, has died in Belfast.
When Lin and Cathy get into a fight, they lose track of Victoria's
son Tommy. A brief panic ensues before they find him. Gerry
and Edward return, and Gerry breaks up with Edward.
Act Ⅱ - Summary (2)
On a summer night, Lin, Victoria, and Edward come to the park to
hold a ceremony for a sex goddess. Martin arrives and they pull
him into the orgy. Moments later, Lin's dead brother appears and
relates the experience of his service in the army. Lin collapses
when her brother disappears. Characters from Africa begin to
make brief appearances, interacting with the London characters.
By late summer, Lin, Victoria, and Edward have moved in together.
Betty has rediscovered the joy of masturbation. Gerry and Edward
reconcile and make plans to go out some time. On a trip to get ice
cream, the Dead Hand Gang assaults Cathy. Martin and Lin fight
over who was supposed to be looking after Cathy. All but Gerry
and Betty leave. In her discussion with Gerry, Betty comes to
terms with the fact that Edward is homosexual. Betty from Africa
returns and embraces the new Betty.
• On September 23rd through the 26th
1999, Clemson University's Theatre
Department performed Caryl Churchill's
play Cloud 9 at Clemson's Brooks
Costume Designers for Cloud 9
The costumes let the audience be
transported back into the time period
of the play and to get a better
understanding of the dress of that
In the first act, the setting is Africa in 1879
• In this time period, the dress was traditionally
Victorian which can consist of hoop skirts, tight
bodices, knee high socks, and riding outfits. So
this part is difficult. Many pieces of costumes
had to be made by hand.
In the second act,
the setting is London in 1979.
• This would be standard contemporary
dress. So dressing the actors was a little
• In the play, there are men playing women and
vise versa. The director wanted the audience to
recognize the actors by their face, not by the
type of costume they wore when they were the
previous character.
Costumes of Characters in
Act 1
The director wanted Act 1 costumes
to be bright because of the mood.
Harry Bagley
Mrs. Saunders
Costumes of Characters in Act 2
• In Act 2, the colors of the costumes would be
muted because the mood of this act was more
somber than Act 1.
Interesting Information
• The hardest costumes were Lin and Gerry in Act
2 (She did not want them to look like the
stereotypical homosexual)
• Women shoes that fit men sizes are very hard to
• Casts (in general) usually do not like the
costumes (The cast for Cloud 9 has been really
great in accepting the costumes.)
Colonial Oppression
Sexual Oppression
Sex and Gender
The Quest for Identity
The Sets on the Stage
• Act I takes place in Africa, roughly during the
1870's, the British Victorian era. During this time
period, British colonialism was still in full swing.
• Act II takes place in London around 1979. By this
time period, British colonialism had all but
completely deflated, but other forms of repression
remained. Homosexuals, though far from
completely welcome, had established a presence in
the cultural landscape of British society. Divorce
had become acceptable, and women had gained
new freedoms and greater status.
Colonial Oppression
• CLIVE had those Stable boys flogged.
• CLIVE: It’s my duty to have them flogged…, to keep
you safe.
• CLIVE: You can tame a wild animal only so far. ..
Sometimes I feel the natives are the enemy. …
Implacable. This whole continent is my enemy. I
am pitching my whole mind and will and reason and
spirit against it to tame it,…. (p. 33)
• *CLIVE made JOSHUA flog those stable boys, and he thought
it’s necessary to do so.
Colonial Oppression
• The British Soldiers oppressed the African
• CLIVE: ... Harry, there was trouble last night….
But it’s all over now. Everything is under
• CLIVE: … We did a certain amount of damage, set
a village on fire and so forth.
• CLIVE: … The army will come and visit, …. to
see the British army?… (p. 37)
Colonial Oppression
• The British Soldiers killed JOSHUA’s parents.
• MRS SAUNDERS: …. I’ve just found Joshua
putting earth on his head. He tells me his
parents were killed last night by the British
soldiers. I think you owe him an apology
on behalf of the Queen. (p. 41)
*Then JOSHUA shot CLIVE at HARRY’s and ELLEN’s wedding.
Sexual Oppression
• CLIVE forbad EDWARD playing with a
• CLIVE: What’s that you’re holding?
• BETTY: It’s Victoria’s doll. …
• BETTY: …You don’t want papa to see you with a
• CLIVE: Ellen minds Victoria, let Ellen mind the
ELLEN takes the doll. (p. 8)
Sexual Oppression
• CLIVE felt disgusted at HARRY for he’s a
CLIVE: My God, Harry, how disgusting. …
HARRY: It is not a sin, it is a disease. …
CLIVE: …My God, what a betrayal of the Queen.
HARRY: Clive, I am like a man born crippled. …
(pp 40-41)
• *CLIVE enforced HARRY to get married.
Sexual Oppression
• ELLEN’s inner oppression.
• ELLEN: Betty, what happens with a man?….
• BETTY: ELLEN, you’re not getting married to
enjoy yourself.
• ELLEN: Don’t’ forget me, Betty. (p. 44)
* ELLEN will be oppressed in her life after she’s married
because she actually loved a woman, Betty, not men.
• BETTY and ELLEN slapped EDWARD.
EDWARD, meanwhile, has found the doll and is playing clap hands
with her.
• BETTY: Edward, what have you got there?…
• BETTY: Edward, I’ve told you before, dolls are
for girls.
• BETTY: You must never let the boys at school
know you like dolls. Never, never. ... (p. 30)
• BETTY: … you won’t grow up to be a man like your papa.
• BETTY: …. and papa will beat you. …
• BETTY takes the doll away, slaps him, bursts into tears. ELLEN comes
in. …. She slaps EDWARD, who bursts into tears and goes out. (pp 30-31)
• *BETTY and ELLEN slapped EDWARD because he held the
doll again. EDWARD didn’t want to be a man like his father.
• *CLIVE himself was not actively violent, perhaps suggesting
the hypocrisy of his oppression.
• *He kept his hands clean by allowing others to actually carry
out his wishes with violence.
• LIN’s and CATHY’s conversation always filled with
• CATHY: What is it? Who’ skilled? What?……
• CATHY: Can I have his gun? …
• CATHY: Fuck off. …
LIN hits CATHY, CATHY cries.
• LIN: And shut up or I’ll give you something to cry for. …
They are all shouting. … Then they laugh and embrace. (pp 67-68)
Violence and Sexual Oppression
• The violence of Act I (as CLIVE, BETTY and ELLEN
did to EDWARD) reappeared in the assault on
CATHY by the Dead Hand Gang.
• CATHY comes on howling with a nosebleed. …
• CATHY: Took my ice cream.
• CATHY: Took my money.
• CATHY: They hit me. I can’t play. They said I’m
a girl. (p. 84)
Sex and Gender
• The play gets inspired from the life stories and personal
sexual experiences of the theater members
• The great challenge of life is learning to reconcile one's
upbringing and one's physical identity with one's true
• cross-casting makes gender visible by separating
feminine gender from the female body, ex: Betty played
by a man
• cross-casting also illuminates the role of socialization in
the formation of gender identity, ex: young Edward
trying to escape from traditional role expectations
• the only cross-casting of Cathy in act two involves in the
issue of what is considered correct behavior for a girl, in
association with Edward in Act One
• characters not played by opposite-sex actors have
nontraditional sexual orientations
ex: Harry’s sexual relationship with little Edward.
The Quest for Identity
Characters’ self introduction in the beginning
Characters in act one not able to act out their true feelings
game of hide and seek allows them to reveal themselves
Clive's value system calls for a covering of identity if that
identity disrespects England
• Betty, Edward, and Victoria in act two continue the search
for identity
• they face new challenges of establishing an identity in a
world far different from Victorian era Africa
• Embracing
• Seasons
• the act of embracing repeatedly as a physical
means of demonstrating love or the lack of love,
ex: Ellen embraces Betty as she expresses her
love for her.
• Clive and Betty never embrace, suggesting the
superficiality of their relationship
• the two Bettys embrace at the end, showing Betty
has finally grown to love herself
• seasonal changes parallel the self journey
• act two opens in winter, the sexuality of the characters
are cold and dead in many ways
• when spring arrives in act two, scene two, people begin
to come out of sexual hibernation, ex: Gerry and Edward
break off their relationship, Victoria and Martin argue
about the their marriage
• with summer comes sexual liberation, Lin, Victoria, and
Edward hold an orgy in the park, and Betty rediscovers
• Betty's Necklace
• Guns
• Dolls
Betty's Necklace
• In Act I, the necklace represents Edward's secret
defiance of his family in seeking Harry's love
• In Act II, the necklace symbolizes Betty's
connection with the past
• first used as an indication of the violence of
Clive's world
• Ironically, the system that Clive sets up
eventually brings about his death at the end of
Act One.
• symbol of power in Act Two: Lin arms Cathy
with toy guns to give Cathy status that Lin never
had as a little girl.
• a symbol of submissive femininity in Act One
• Victoria in Act One who’s played by a
doll/dummy implies Clive's idea of how women
should be.
• Edward’s playing with the doll foreshadows his
playing a submissive role in a homosexual
• Joshua’s act of cutting the doll suggests his
betrayal against Clive
Betty :
“But if there isn't a right way to do things you
have to invent one.”
Study Questions
• Discuss Churchill's choice to have actors
play characters opposite their own sex.
What are the theatrical and thematic
implications of this choice?
• How do the characters change from act one
to act two? What cause them to change?
• Discuss Betty's rediscovery of masturbation.
How does this relate to her search for
Works Cited
• Caryl Churchill. Cloud 9 Study Guide. 24 May 2006
• Caryl Churchill. MSN Encarta. 24 May 2006
• Caryl Churchill. 24 May 2006 <>.
• “Caryl Churchill”. 24 May 2006
• Churchill, Caryl. Cloud 9. New York: Theatre Communications Group,
• Cloud 9 at Clemson University. 24 May 2006
• Kritzer, Amelia Howe. The Plays of Caryl Churchill. New York: Palgrave,