“So–are you the racist?”
Clybourne Park, Northeastern University Department of Theatre’s third production this fall, is a provocative look at racial tensions in America, past and present. Inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park is a satiric drama that follows two sets of neighbors – one in 1959 and one in 2009 – who grapple with the damage of a dream deferred. “The play is incredibly relevant to this moment in time,” says director and Assistant Teaching Professor Jonathan Carr. “The horrifying state of racial injustice in our country motivated me to make theatre that has race as part of the conversation in a big way.”
Clybourne Park earned the playwright Bruce Norris a Tony Award for Best Play and Pulitzer Prize for Drama in the U.S., as well as the Olivier Award for Best New Play in the U.K. It has had successful runs in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., where it broke box-office records. Mr. Norris is the recipient of the 2009 Steinberg Playwright Award, the Whiting Foundation Prize for Drama, and the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work.
Jonathan Carr has directed in both professional and academic settings across the Northeast, including Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern, he taught at Villanova University and directed for the American Repertory Theatre/ Moscow Art Theater School Institute. He holds an MFA in Directing from Columbia University and a BA in Theatre and Dance from Amherst College. He trained with theatre legends Anne Bogart, Robert Woodruff, Andrei Serban, and Kristin Linklater. As a director, Carr loves plays that push the audience into difficult emotional terrain while also making them laugh.
“Clybourne Park dramatizes what happens to us all in a room when we sit together with an uncomfortable truth that may divide us,” shares Carr. “When we’re in a space that is homogenous, we may speak differently than when we’re in a space that’s heterogeneous. Clybourne Park takes place in a house where people of different races confront one another about racial stereotypes. It can feel dangerous to speak honestly and openly because everyone in the room is not like us – and the play may feel dangerous at times. The play asks how do we make a society – a civilization – with so many uncomfortable truths about each other? I hope it will inspire conversation on our campus. How do we stay ourselves, honestly, as we begin to come together?”
Beginning that conversation will be Assistant Professor Carole Bell from Communication Studies. She will be the featured guest in the series reAct following the performance on November 15. Bell’s research explores the role of communication in social change related to group identities including race and gender, and how it can help eliminate traditional social divisions. Tracy Heather Strain, Professor of the Practice in Media and Screen Studies, will further the conversation at the reAct on Thursday, November 19. Professor Strain’s teaching focuses on documentary storytelling, production management and history. She is an award-winning filmmaker and film/video director, producer, and writer.
Tickets for NU students are just $5-$8 and can be purchased through myNEU.