Event Night on Cloud 9

Event Night on Cloud 9

By Theresa MacNaughton and Fiona Kyle

Hartford Stage held a panel discussion, Going Beyond the Nuclear: Raising Non-Traditional Families in Connecticut, on February 27 which tied into the theme of family as presented in Caryl Churchill’s contemporary masterpiece Cloud 9. The discussion was hosted by Hartford Stage Artistic Associate Rachel Alderman. Topics included how the definition of “family” has shifted and whether it has shifted at all, or enough. 

Panelists included:

Julia Rosenblatt, artistic director for Hartbeat Ensemble, which creates provocative theatre connecting our community behind traditional barriers of class, race, geography and gender. Julia lives in an intentional community in Hartford with seven other adults and three children. They have been nicknamed the “Scarborough 11.” 

Donna Warren, an activist/ally in the LGBT community for nearly three decades. She has been a nurse for 50 years, many of those in HIV counseling testing and care. Donna proudly served as the STD Program Coordinator of the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective for 11 years. She is a long-term PFLAG Mom. 

Cedric Wesley is a parent, husband and teacher. Cedric’s family includes his husband, Ken, their three sons. Cedric, a public school teacher, grew up in a family of 10 and knew he always wanted to have a family with children of his own.

A community vendor fair was held in conjunction with the discussion, featuring PFLAG of Hartford, True Colors, The Unitarian Society of Hartford, The Annie C. Courtney Foundation, and the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective. The organizations were able to share information about their community services with guests.

Immediately following the panel discussion, we hosted Cloud 9 set designer Nick Vaughan and his husband and artist-collaborator, Jake Margolin, for their artist talk 50 States: Colorado (For Frenchy). The talk was presented as a series of 7 toasts (with video) in honor of Charles ‘Frenchy’ Vosbaugh, a 19th century gender-non-conforming pioneer from Trinidad, Colorado. 

Members of Hartford Stage’s Book Club joined panelists, patrons, Hartford Stage staff, and the cast of Cloud 9 to toast Frenchy and to experience the 50 States project that explores hidden LGBTQI+ history in each state. You can see more of Nick and Jake’s work from their Cut Maps: Suburbia series in the Traveler’s Gallery located in the John and Kelly Hartman Foundation (Upper) Lobby during the run of Cloud 9.