Liberty Theatre has high hopes for award-winning 'Clybourne Park'

sokamoto@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 14, 2013 

  • IF YOU GO

    What: “Clybourne Park,” a spinoff of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” is a satire about race and real estate in a fictional Chicago neighborhood. It won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and the 2012 Tony Award.

    When: 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17; also, 7 p.m. Feb. 22, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Feb. 23 and 3 p.m. Feb. 24.

    Where: Liberty Theatre, 821 Eighth Ave.

    Tickets: $15; $13 for military personnel, seniors 60 and older and students.

    Box office: 706-653-7566

Jonathan Perkins has high hopes for “Clybourne Park.”

He's hoping attendance will be good for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winner and the 2010 Tony Award-winner.

He's hoping people will come see the play at the Liberty Theatre, even though Eighth Avenue is currently part of the road work disrupting traffic and parking in the area. Perkins said parking will be plentiful for theater-goers.

And he's hoping the Talk Back sessions after each show will allow a lot of discussion that will culminate in new poems, plays and other writings, including books and papers.

Perkins, whose stage name is Jonathan Samuel Eddie, is also in the cast of "Clybourne Park."

Each cast member plays a character in 1959 in the first act. In the second act, they play a different character in 2009.

Clybourne Park is a fictional neighborhood in Chicago. In 1959, the neighborhood is white. Then a black family moves in.

There is discussion of race relations as the family moves into the house. This is before the civil rights movement, and a member of the neighborhood association is willing to pay them not to move in.

After the intermission, Clybourne Park is predominantly black, but since it's in a desirable part of Chicago, white families are moving back, all in the name of urban revitalization.

Called a companion piece to "A Raisin in the Sun," the original black family moving into Clybourne Park is the Youngers from the Lorraine Hansberry play. Also popping up from Hansberry's play is Karl Lindner of the Clybourne Park Association, who offers money to the Youngers so they won't move into the neighborhood.

The payoff doesn't work and over the years more and more black families move into the neighborhood.

Fifty years later, the neighborhood is almost all black. So is the membership of the CPA. The neighborhood "is very desirable," said director RNell Feagins.

The original house the Youngers moved into is being sold to a white family who have plans to demolish it and build a new, bigger house.

The CPA is protesting the demolition, wanting to keep the historical value of the neighborhood.

Feagins likes the play a lot, especially the cast's true ensemble nature. She said there is no one star of the play.

"There's a lot of comedy," she said of the play's tone. "But it does get a little bit dramatic."

Though none of them have seen the show, she's sure that some audience members may have seen it during its New York run.

"If they loved it on Broadway, they'll love it here," she said.

Perkins said the Talk Back sessions will involve the actors, the crew and community members who will discuss race relations in Columbus and in America. He will record each conversation for future study.

"I'm pulling for more innovative new work to come out of Columbus from this," Perkins said.

During the show, several young poets will write their impressions of the show and then perform their poems during the Talk Back.

Because the show contains adult language, Perkins said it is not suitable for young audiences.

Upcoming shows at the Liberty include "The Women" in March and "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" in May.

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