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Clybourne Park Discovery Guide

Clybourne Park Discovery Guide

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Published by Wilfred Wong

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Published by: Wilfred Wong on May 15, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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D  i   s  c  o  v  e  r   y  G   u  i   d   e  
P.L.A.Y. (Performance = Literature + Art + You) Student Matinee Series2013-2014 Season
P.L.A.Y. Student Matinee Series SponsorPassport ProgramSponsor
Bruce Norris
 / Directed
Mark Cuddy
Dear Educators,
One of the lasting effects, for me, of working on a number of AugustWilson’s plays several seasons back is a greater appreciation for who and what has come before me. As a historian by training and a dramaturg by practice, I was always aware of the importance of  precedence, but now I try to take a little more time to acknowledgethe street or building named after a person, for example – he or shemust have done something of some importance in order to earn sucha distinction. It deserves, at the very least, my passing respect. And so it is with neighborhoods, too. They were not always as theyare now – they had a history. And another history before that. Suchis the story with
Clybourne Park
,as one group of people gives wayto another and the story of the area changes These stories are allaround us. Several years ago, I owned a house in the South Wedgearea of Rochester. In living there for a decade, I came to understandthat it had only recently emerged from a period of crime, blight, anddepression, and was just beginning a new chapter in its longhistory. I am about to begin work as a dramaturg on a story set, in part, in the Corn Hill district and will, no doubt, learn more aboutthe area than I could have ever imagined.Your students, though they may argue otherwise, are steeped inhistory, whether they are surrounded by houses built in the 1800s or live in a brand-new subdivision. Every neighborhood is ClybournePark in one way or another. We just need to make the effort todiscover how and why.Thank you for deciding to bring your students to see
Clybourne Park
. It will, we’re sure, be an experience that they’ll remember for a very long time.Sincerely,Eric EvansEducation Administrator eevans@gevatheatre.org(585) 420-2035
Table of Contents
Clybourne Park 
. . . . . . . . 2From thePlaywright. . . . 3The
Conversation. . 4Confronting theUnfamiliar.. . . . 5The Identityof aNeighborhood. 6The Satireof 
 Clybourne Park 
.. . . . . . . 7The Fine Printof PrivateProperty. . . . . 8The ChangingLandscape of Real Estatein Rochester. . 8When the Set isa Character. . . 9Resources. . . 10
WARNING: Strong languageand mature subject matter.Approachingcontemporaryissues of race,class andcommunitythrough satire iscomplicated andintentionallyprovocative.
Clybourne Park 
encouragesaudience membersto questionsocietal attitudesand examine their own positionsand actionsthrough a styleof humor thatcan be bothunsettling anduncomfortable.It is highlyrecommendedthat all educators take theopportunity toread the scriptof
Clybourne Park 
prior toattending withtheir students.If you havequestions orconcerns aboutthe content of the play or wouldlike to requestan electronicreading copy,please do nothesitate tocontact theeducationdepartment.
“But that’s nice, isn’t it, in a way? To know that we all have our place.” – Bev
Cover images:Scenic designer Skip Mercier’s modelsfor
Clybourne Park
in  Act I (top) and  Act II (bottom).
Participation in this production and supplementalactivities suggested in this guide support thefollowing NYS Learning Standards:A: 2, 3, 4; ELA: 1, 2, 3, 4; SS: 1, 2, 3, 4
Clybourne Park 
Clybourne Park
, by Bruce Norris, premiered at Playwrights’ Horizons in 2010, earned the 2011 Pulitzer Prizefor Drama, Laurence Olivier Prize for Best New Play, and the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play.
: Clybourne Park is a fictional neighborhoodlocated in central Chicago. The first act is set in 1959; six years after the end of the Korean War. The second act isset in the same neighborhood, 50 years later in 2009, witha new generation of residents.
: In 1959 white, middle-class Clybourne Parkresidents Russ and Bev, who lost their son Kenneth after his return home from the Korean War, are planning to selltheir home when their neighbor, Karl, makes anunexpected visit to inform them that the family who isbuying the house is black and that he is attemptingto discourage the black family from moving into theneighborhood. In the same home, 50 years later,Clybourne Park has become a mostly black neighbor-hood. A white couple, Steve and Lindsey, are planning tobuy the house, tear it down, and replace it with a newhome, forcing a meeting to negotiate local housingregulations with Kevin and Lena, a black couple living inthe area who have historic ties to the home.
: “It was very important to me to depict the people in 1959 as people with good intentions. They’renot racists in the KKK way — they’re people who thinkthat they’re doing the right thing to protect their neighborhood and their children and their real estate values. But that’s a form of self-interest that has, as itsunfortunate byproduct, a really racist outcome.” – Bruce Norris, Playwright“We see two generations of white Americans struggle tosquare their self-images as decent, thoughtful people withthe reality of their social and economic power over their  African American servants, would-be friends, and potential neighbors. ‘Are our liberal ideals sustainableoutside the safety of the middle-class, suburban bubble?’Norris forces us to ask ourselves.” – Beryl Satter,Historian“One essential character in the play is the house itself. In1959 this modest, three-bedroom bungalow is neat andwell-maintained. By 2009, it exhibits an overallshabbiness with crumbling plaster and deteriorateddoorways. What happened? We know that it shifted fromwhite to black ownership. Can this alone explain thebuilding’s demise?” – Beryl Satter, Historian
“But you can’t live in a
, can you? Gotta live in a
.” – Karl

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