Clybourne Park, a new play by Bruce Norris that defies definition, is sure to instigate much debate on social issues – past and present. It plays in the Severson Theatre September 12 – 29.
The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning drama is a wickedly funny and fiercely provocative play that deals with race, real estate, and the volatile values of each. It spans 50 years between each explosive act. Act I is set in 1959 as nervous community leaders try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act II takes place in the same house, but in present day, and the predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to hold its ground in the face of gentrification.
The issues over time are strikingly similar. It’s a battle over territory that will leave you wondering how far we’ve come, or how little we’ve changed in the last half-century. One cast plays both sets of characters, as they unearth delicate personal issues and uncover perilous social agendas. Elizabeth Stuart* plays Bev/Kathy, Peter S. Hadres* plays Russ/Dan, Cara Ricketts* plays Francine/Lena, Michael Jenkinson* plays Jim/Tom/Kenneth, Ryan Vincent Anderson* plays Albert/Kevin, Andrew Philpot* plays Karl/Steve, and Karin Hendricks plays Betsy/Lindsey.
The Pulitzer Prize jury described Clybourne Park as “a powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America’s sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness.”
Director Mark Booher said that part of the appeal of this play is it’s unpredictability. “This play excites me and upsets me. When I first saw it, I laughed and didn’t know if I should be laughing. It felt subversive, naughty, important and dangerous. Things happen in this story that I understand and can predict, and then things happen that I thought wouldn’t dare happen. People say things they shouldn’t say and do things they ought not do.” Playwright Norris amplified the nature of the work saying, “My ideal audience response is to have them come out saying, ‘I don’t know what’s right anymore. I used to think I knew what was right, but I’m not sure I do.'” He also told the New York Theater, “Audiences want to align themselves with someone in a play, and one of the most fun things to do is deny them that option.”
Clybourne Park has won nearly every honor the theatre community has to award: the Tony Award, the Olivier Award, the Evening Standard Theatre Award, the Theatre World Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.
After its triumphant run at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, Clybourne Park premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizon in 2010. It arrived on Broadway at the Walter Kerr theatre on March 26, 2012.
Norris has said that there’s timelessness to this story because these situations will very likely happen again – in 50 years, or a hundred years – though the details may change. It might be Hispanics versus Asian-Americans or Hindus versus Muslims, but he observed that human behavior tends to repeat itself. In an interview with Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage Company, Norris reflected on the assumption that over time – specifically the 50 years his play covers – we are collectively moving to a socially higher ground. “One of the traps we fall into is the ‘progress’ trap. We like to think there’s some sort of linear progression toward a utopian ideal, and that each incremental or even superficial change we make is somehow part of a long march to this ideal universe.” Norris said the situations change through the generations, but just like looking back at absurdities 50 years ago he observed, “the problems we grapple with [today] are going to seem incredibly absurd to people 50 years from now.”
Clybourne Park is best enjoyed by adults due to its adult language and mature themes.
Articulates brilliantly, wittily, and painfully our inability to talk about race
– The San Francisco Chronicle
Smart, abrasively funny and fiendishly provocative play
Ferociously smart! A vital, superlative production of sharp-witted, sharp toothed Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy
– New York Times
A theatrical treasure! Indisputably, uproariously funny
– Entertainment Weekly
A Savagely Funny and insightful time bomb
– The Hollywood Reporter
Funny as hell! The theatres shakes with gales of laughter
– NY Post
Hilariously Funny! A master class in comic writing and playing
– The New Yorker
Dangerous, provocative, and pulverizingly funny!
Offensively delicious and combustible!
– The London Guardian
The Clybourne Park creative team includes Resident Scenic Artist Abby Hogan who will serve as Scenic Designer, Tamar Geist is Lighting Designer, Robin Newell is Costume Designer, Alberto Yong is Sound Designer, and Suzanne Tyler* is the Production Stage Manager.
*Member, Actors’ Equity Association
For tickets and information, call the box office – (805) 922-8313 – between 12:30 and 7pm Wednesday through Sunday.
Information about Group Sales for 12 or more patrons may be obtained by contacting email@example.com or by calling 928-7731 ext 415