Bruce Norris’ award-winning play, “Clybourne Park” will be coming to Ursinus’ Blackbox Studio Theater this March from the 22-25. “Clybourne Park” is a spin-off of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” “Clybourne Park” takes place over the course of two different eras in the U.S., exploring both integration and gentrification through the interactions of white and African-American home buyers.
Director Domenick Scudera, professor and chair of the theater department at Ursinus, explained that Act 1 is set in 1959 in the neighborhood where the family from “A Raisin in the Sun” moves. The first act speaks “directly to racial tension and housing inequality [in the 1950s].” Act 2 takes a new look at the issues, set 50 years later in the same house. It seems that the community has progressed at first; however, we soon discover that less has changed than suspected.
According to Scudera, “racial tensions still exist but have taken on new forms. The play is relevant to current times because it exposes the fact that our country has not advanced as much as we profess.”
Scudera added, “It is not necessary for an audience member to know or to have seen ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ ‘Clybourne Park” stands by itself as a play. Those that do know ‘Raisin’ may appreciate the parallels, but awareness of ‘Raisin’ is not a pre-requisite for viewing ‘Clybourne.’”
According to Scudera, “The play has multiple themes that include race, identity, community, housing, difference, prejudice . . . and how humor plays into all of that.”
He noted, “The play is funny, despite its serious themes. Act 2, in particular, brings about a discussion of humor and how it may or may not be appropriate in certain circumstances.”
For the Ursinus students acting in the play, the rehearsal process has been strenuous, especially in executing a tension-filled play such as “Clybourne Park.”
Scudera said, “The process has been challenging, but not difficult. It is challenging because most of the actors are onstage for the entire show and their characters are actively engaged in heated conversations throughout. This means that all the actors must work closely with each other to make the rapid-fire dialogue happen smoothly and seemingly effortlessly.”
The cast has been working on this play since the beginning of the spring semester, rehearsing Act 1 as a single play then moving into Act 2 as a separate unit, according to Scudera.
Said first year cast member Caroline Bormann ’21, “Not to sound cliché, but we truly are a tightknit family. As there are only eight of us, we are always working with each other and trying to work off of each other as best as we can. We look forward to the upcoming weeks as we fine tune and tweak our performances and await the official production in March.”
Bormann hopes that viewers enjoy the play and learn from it. “I hope that our production helps to initiate discourse and discussion in some form, both for our students and community. We hope that our show demonstrates the necessity of compassion and consideration for others and their ideas, as well as the importance of listening to one another.”
Added Bormann, “Although disagreement may exist, we must learn to consider, to empathize, and to respect one another, as that is the only way we can overcome issues in whatever form.”
Scudera hopes for the same outcome.
“This play deals very frankly with race and diversity and shows our discomfort with addressing these issues within our communities. It is important that we learn how to communicate with each other to confront problems. Hopefully, this play will allow people to see problems from a fresh angle, and a funny one, at that, and will spark engaging, thoughtful conversation after experiencing it,” said Scudera.
The show will run March 22-25, with showings at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets are available online as well as before the show at the box office, and are $8 regular admission and $5 for students and seniors. To reserve tickets, visit ursinus.edu/tickets.