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‘Clybourne Park’ at Valborg Theatre to Conclude ‘How We Talk About Race’ at ASU

By Kaitlan Morehouse

Do you want to see a play by an award-winning playwright? You can at Appalachian State University’s Valborg Theatre any day between Wednesday and Sunday, Feb. 24-28.

Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24-27. The 2 p.m. show on Sunday, Feb. 28 will conclude the month-long campus- and community-wide discussion entitled, “How We Talk About Race in 2016,” which began with a performance of “A Raisin in the Sun” last month.

Dress rehearsals for Clybourne Park.
Dress rehearsals for “Clybourne Park.”

The Sunday, Feb. 28 performance, which will be interpreted in American Sign Language, will conclude the month-long, campus- and community-wide discussion “How We Talk About Race in 2016.”

The “Clybourne Park” performance has a small fee of $10 for ASU students and $17 for adults.

From playwright Bruce Norris, “Clybourne Park” is the only play to win the Triple Crown, which is a group of three awards: the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, the Tony Award for Best Play and the Olivier Award for Best Play in the United Kingdom.

“Bruce Norris has crafted a devilishly clever play that exposes our culture’s complacency about racial inequality,” said the production’s dramaturg and Associate Professor of Theatre Paulette Marty. “He makes us laugh, while at the same time challenging us with the question, ‘If we’ve made so much progress on racial equality, how come our neighborhoods are still almost as segregated as they were in 1959?’”

Clybourne Park

A spin-off from Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” the play has two acts, which are set in 1959 and 2009, respectively. Both feature the same Chicago house and suburb, but one focuses on a black family moving into a predominantly white neighborhood and the other a white family moving into a historically black neighborhood.

The story line features one character who is deaf, so four actors will use American Sign Language.

“The script is so rich, like peeling back the skin of an onion,” said John M. Blackburn Distinguished Professor of Theatre Keith Martin.

“Clybourne Park” is directed by Martin, with scenery designed by Professor Mike Helms, costumes designed by Associate Professor Sue Williams and lighting and sound designed by ASU Theatre Arts alumna Tim Snyder.

The ASU Theatre and Dance Department “Clybourne Park” cast members in order of appearance include:

Act one:

  • Dylan Brown as Russ
  • Lydia Congdon as Bev
  • Koria Johnson as Francine
  • Logan Frazier as Jim
  • T.J. Lewis as Albert
  • Aaron Scotch as Karl
  • Jenna Tonsor as Betsy

Act two:

  • Logan Frazier as Tom
  • Jenna Tonsor as Lindsey
  • Lydia Congdon as Kathy
  • Aaron Scotch as Steve
  • Koria Johnson as Lena
  • T.J. Lewis as Kevin
  • Dylan Brown as Dan
  • Jake Roberts as Kenneth

Karina Galiano will serve as the production stage manager.

“Our students have done stellar work in this production,” Marty said. “They’ve done extensive historical research that has informed the actors’ performances and designers’ choices, dug into the themes of the play with the director to help him shape his concept for the production, and found great materials for audiences about the play’s themes and context.”

Similar to In/Visible Theatre’s recent production of “A Raisin in the Sun,” talkback discussions will take place immediately following the performances, which will include an experienced panel of experts comprised of faculty, staff and community members:

  • Joseph Bathanti from the ASU English Department
  • Mark Bradbury from the ASU Government and Justice Studies Department
  • Tandrea Carter from the Institute of Health and Human Services
  • Elisabeth Cavallaro from the Wellness and Prevention Services
  • Rich Crepeau and Elizabeth Shay from the ASU Geography and Planning Department
  • Cameron Lippard from the ASU Sociology Department
  • Keith Martin and Paulette Marty from the ASU Theatre and Dance Department
  • Sonyé Randolph from the ASU Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance

Moderators for the discussions are Traci Royster and Lindy Wagner from the Office of Multicultural Student Development.

“The intention of these talkbacks is to take these themes off the stage and place them into the context of our own community, as a powerful reminder that the dream continues to be deferred for many of us,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Compliance and Chief Diversity Officer Bindu Jayne.

The talkback discussions will include issues like race, segregation, gentrification, upward mobility, mental health, PTSD and suicide.

Martin said the illumination of these issues will bring everyone together.

Chancellor Sheri Everts and Provost Darrell Kruger will offer opening remarks to ignite the discussions and put issues into perspective.

“The arts can be incredibly powerful in highlighting social issues in a way that sparks deep and honest conversation,” Everts said. “I look forward to the dialogue that ‘Clybourne Park’ will spark on our campus and in our community.”

For more information on “Clybourne Park,” visit ASU’s Theatre and Dance Department website.


Dress rehearsals for "Clybourne Park."
Dress rehearsals for “Clybourne Park.”

Clybourne Park