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'Clybourne Park' looks at neighborhood as microcosm of race issues

This week, audiences will go back in time to explore the racial tensions of 1959, the after-effects of the Korean War and the tribulations of moving into a new neighborhood. BGSU students will perform "Clybourne Park" at 8 p.m. tonight (Oct. 24) in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre, with additional performances at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday (Oct. 25 and 26), and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 26 and 27).

"Clybourne Park," written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Bruce Norris, is a response to

"A Raisin in the Sun," the controversial play by Lorraine Hansberry that was first performed on Broadway in 1959.

"A Raisin in the Sun" follows Walter and Ruth Younger, a black family attempting to move into a vacated home in a white Chicago neighborhood in the era of the civil rights movement. "Clybourne Park" shows the audience who exactly is moving out of that house: Russ and Bev, a grieving husband and wife.

Knowing that a black family has bought the house, their neighbor, Karl Lindner, a minor character from "A Raisin in the Sun," begs Bev and Russ not to leave, for fear of property values plummeting. The group calls on Bev and Russ's black housekeeper and her husband to offer an opposing view.

As the play progresses, the setting shifts to 2009. The house remains the same, except Clybourne Park has now become an all-black neighborhood. The past is relived when the discussion of housing codes turns to a fight about racial issues when a white couple tries to move into the three-story house. A black couple who are displeased with the gentrification of the area represents the neighborhood organization.

"Clybourne Park" has won a Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, the 2011 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play and the 2012 Theatre World Award in the past two years since its New York City premiere.

Audiences are advised that "Clybourne Park" discusses mature themes, tackling both racism and suicide, and employs adult language.

Tickets are available at the Wolfe Center for the Arts Box Office, and at bgsu.edu/arts.