This summer’s collaboration between The 5 & Dime, a Theatre Company and The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens will be Bruce Norris’s thought-provoking comedy Clybourne Park, a play about race, real-estate and relationships. Named for the fictional white neighborhood introduced in Lorraine Hansberry’s seminal play “A Raisin in the Sun,” Clybourne Park is a neighborhood twice transformed. Starting in 1959 we meet a Russ and Bev, a white middle-class couple packing for a move out of the neighborhood. Visits from their clergyman and their neighbors lead to a heated disagreement about the buyers for Russ and Bev’s home, a black family, and their worries about the impact on their property values.
In Act 2 the audience returns to the house some fifty years later, with the same actors playing different roles. Clybourne Park is going through a gentrification and the new prospective buyers want to purchase the home to raise it and rebuild in the newly-desirable neighborhood. Their plans lead to a battle with the housing board that starts with a discussion of housing regulations and degrades to an argument around racial issues. The dispute ends when a contractor discovers a half-century old secret buried in the yard.
Rhodie Jackson, who plays Francine and Lena in the production, sees this story as one where we are faced with our past, our present and our future. Larry Knight, in the roles of Albert and Kevin, believes that the story casts a light on the issue and complications related to communalism. “We find solace in residing in comfortably constructed enclaves where everyone looks the same. Those viewed as being different from the homogenous population occupying the community are often met with challenges and prejudice. This play allows the audience to reflect on how they fit into this social construct.”
Dave Alan Thomas, who portrays Russ and Dan in the production stated, “As far as we have come, far too many people remain uncomfortable with earnest discussions dealing with race and other labels and classifications. Sometimes we feel invalid to add anything new; I’ve thought, “Who am I as a middle-aged, middle-class white man raised in the South – What could I possibly add that hasn’t been said?” The greatness of a play like Clybourne Park, or other artwork, like the tantalizing pieces that The Cummer Museum has selected, open conversation, challenge opinions, and invite a freedom of discussion that concerns our place in our community and our community’s place in the world. Art is a guise that allows us to discuss issues that would otherwise be too difficult to navigate.”
Rick Despain directs this cast of veteran actors that is completed with Amy Noel Canning in the roles of Bev and Kathy, Pablo Milla in the as Jim and Tom, Josh Waller as Karl and Steve, and Lindsay Curry as Betsey and Lindsey.
Clybourne Park is the third annual summer collaboration between The 5 & Dime, a Theatre Company and The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. The show will be performed at the museum on July 31, August 1, 7, 8 @ 7:30pm and August 2 & 9 @ 2pm. Tickets for the show are $20 at the door or online here. Make it an event, and take in lunch or dinner before the show at The Cummer Café. Prepaid meal orders are available with ticket purchase for an additional $33 per person.
Director: Rick Despain
Stage Manager: Emilee Estep
Production Designer: Lee Hamby
Set and Costume Design: Lee Hamby
Props: Pat Gorman & Maggie O’Connor
Graphic Design: Kelby Siddons
Website Maintenance: Jacksonville Community Software Group
DAVE ALAN THOMAS as Russ/Dan
AMY NOEL CANNING as Bev/Kathy
RHODIE JACKSON as Francine/Lena
PABLO MILLA as Jim/Tom
LARRY KNIGHT as Albert/Kevin
JOSH WALLER as Karl/Steve
LINDSAY CURRY as Betsy/Lindsey
BRANDON PARIS as Kenneth