Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, Clybourne Park, is now playing at Utah State University. The Lyric Repertory Company (Lyric), part of the Caine College of the Arts at USU, features their third venue of the season—the Black Box Theatre.
The Lyric opened the 2019 season with Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking play, A Raisin in the Sun. Clybourne Park portrays fictional events set immediately after A Raisin in the Sun and 50 years later. The play is loosely based on historical events that took place in the city of Chicago. Act One takes place in 1959, as white community leaders anxiously try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act Two is set in the same house in 2009, as the now predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to hold its ground in the face of gentrification.
“Bruce Norris writes this play from the ‘off-stage’ perspective of A Raisin in the Sun,” Adrianne Moore, director of the show and artistic producer of the Lyric, said. “He’s essentially giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the simultaneous action in another Chicago neighborhood.”
Moore notes that we are introduced to the Caucasian family who sold their house to the African-American family. Karl Lindner, the only character who appears in both A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park, tries to persuade the sellers to cancel the sale, which is met with refusal.
“This leads to a long conversation about the nature of community,” Moore said. “A lot of the people don’t see themselves as racist, but are profoundly shaken about the idea of an African-American family moving into their neighborhood.”
Moore said the show also looks at what society views as “other” in a number of different ways, including race, disabilities and mental health.
“A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park are by extremely different writers, but this connection of looking at a particular period of history, specifically how it relates to housing, is fascinating,” Moore said. “Norris is very interested in the themes Lorraine Hansberry writes about, but he also makes a real character out of the Clybourne Park house.”
One of the real challenges of this show is designing a set that features a complete house, with many different doors, Moore notes. During intermission fifteen minutes later, the crew has to essentially “demolish” the house for Act Two.
“This show is incredibly funny,” Moore said. “Whenever someone new watches the show, they giggle all the way through. It’s also a very subtle play. There are some shows where we leave patting ourselves on the back thinking we wouldn’t exhibit any of the attitudes or behaviors the villains in the play do. In this show, there is a lot more possibility of increasing self-awareness about what our role is in this egalitarian society.”
The Lyric 2019 season also includes A Raisin in the Sun, Mamma Mia!, Murder for Two, The Great Society (Staged Reading) and Size Matters. The season runs June 14-August 3.
For more information or to purchase tickets for the 2019 season, go online to lyricrep.org. Visit the Caine Lyric Theatre Box Office at 28 W. Center Street on Mon.-Sat. from 10 a.m.-5 p.m until August 3 (435-797-8022) or the Spectrum Box Office at 7600 Old Main Hill on Mon.-Fri. from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (435-797-0305).