How Far Have We Really Come?

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Written in response to Lorainne Hansberry’s classic play A Raisin in the Sun, Bruce Norris’ drama Clybourne Park examines how race relationships have and have not progressed over the past fifty years.

The first act is set in the 1950s, on the same day as the final scene of A Raisin in the Sun. Karl Lindner, the neighborhood association representative who offered the Youngers money not to move into the Clybourne Park neighborhood, arrives at the house the Youngers have purchased to try and convince the current owners not to sell to a black family. Bev and Russ, however, are determined to move out of the house in which their son Kenneth committed suicide after returning from the Korean War, and they refuse to go back on their contract now that they’ve found a buyer. Karl and the local minister Jim insist that segregation will be better for the community, but Russ throws them out of the house, noting that nobody cared about community when the neighborhood shunned Kenneth after he returned from the war.

The second act is set fifty years later, when a young white couple is interested in buying the same house in what has become an all-black neighborhood. They meet with lawyers and two African-American members of the neighborhood association to discuss the plans they have for the house: namely, that they want to tear it down and rebuild it completely. What begins as an overly-polite conversation about gentrification devolves into an explosive argument about race in what is supposed to a “post-racial” era, calling into question how much has really changed.

Clybourne Park premiered on Broadway in 2012 and won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance will present Clybourne Park at the Hilberry Theatre February 26th – March 5th, 2016, and March 31st – April 2nd, 2016. Please join us for this intense, thought-provoking drama.

A Raisin in the Sun will be presented at the Bonstelle Theatre in February. Read more about the piece that inspired Clybourne Park here.

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