Jamez Anderson ’18 and Lauren Teixeira ’19
The Northeastern Department of Theatre production of Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris runs through November 22 in the NU Studio Theatre. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the play has received international acclaim for its bold and darkly funny examination of racial tension in America. Recently, cast members Grant Terzakis ’16, Eva Friedman ’17, Jamez Anderson ’18, and Lauren Teixeira ’19 shared their thoughts on the play’s themes.
How would you describe Clybourne Park?
Eva: Uncomfortable. Hot.
Jamez: Smart, funny, familiar, insightful, and lovely.
Lauren: An exciting, offensive, racist rollercoaster.
Grant: A play that asks tough questions about political correctness and its role in how we communicate.
What do you think the play says about race in America?
Lauren: The first act takes place in 1959 before the Civil Rights Act. The second act is set in 2009 and shows that racism is still present today. Racism is a touchy subject, and Bruce Norris makes his opinions clear.
Eva: Many people feel uncomfortable talking about racism. They don’t want to acknowledge the differences between people or the prejudices that are prevalent in our society.
Grant: The Supreme Court says racism is over. Our play reminds us that it’s not. Just because racism can be a sensitive and uncomfortable topic, does that mean we shouldn’t talk about it?
Jamez: Even though we have made monumental strides in the last 50 years, we need to continue to have conversations, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. The more we engage in dialogue, the more we learn and evolve.
Grant Terzakis ’16 and Eva Friedman ’17
Do you think the production will be viewed as controversial?
Jamez: There are moments in the show that make you laugh inappropriately, feel uncomfortable, and then make you angry. On stage, the actors are feeling the same things. We want to crawl out of our skin. We want to get violent or become silent.
Eva: The characters ask questions that everyone is thinking but no one has the courage to say.
Lauren: Topics that are sensitive or remotely divisive — race, sexuality, disability — are often considered taboo. Clybourne Park addresses all three of them in the span of two hours.
Jamez: Everything becomes very personal when someone is pointing and yelling in your face.
Eva: It’s easy to write some of the characters off as racists, but Norris refuses to let us do that.
Grant: It has been challenging and insightful to empathize as well as connect with the characters I play. I have chosen to focus on their actions instead of the adjectives that someone might classify them with. I came to admire the deeper and personal motivations behind these actions.
Jamez: The play asks “What does it means to be civil?” and “What does civility cost?” It pushes an audience to a point where you will ask if you have prejudices, what offends you, and how far would you go to prove a point.
Eva: Those moments are what make the play both provocative and extraordinarily compelling.
Lauren: I believe that art, particularly theatre, serves as a bridge between what people need to know and what they refuse to talk about. Clybourne Park is most definitely provocative, and it will make audiences think. And that’s exactly why it needs to be seen.
For tickets, performance schedules, and more, click here.
Headshots by Grant Terzakis.