WEEK 8: “Clybourne Park” by Bruce Norris

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The great thing about reading plays is that they only take as long to read as they would take to perform – 2 hours, give or take. They make for good reading for those trying to become writers because they teach you a lot about trimming frivolities i.e. how to condense conversations and entire character sketches into a few lines or scenes.

I’ll admit, I was supposed to read “Clybourne Park “this past quarter for my playwriting class. I’m glad I finally got around to it (however late) because it was a very entertaining read. The play is a satirical spin off of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” It is split into two scenes that take place with the same amount of characters in each, in the same neighborhood, and at the same time of the day. But the two scenes take place about half a century apart.

It was a little hard to follow because it wasn’t being performed – its difficult to keep track of six-plus characters in one room when you only have names and no faces/physical interaction to guide you like you would if you were watching it in action.

The play deals with so many heavy issues – race, sexism, gentrification, suicide, war, faith, mental health – but in a way that doesn’t feel very heavy. The play will have you laughing at all the best moments and flinching at all the worst. It is emotionally engaging and very entertaining. I will definitely be on the look out for an opportunity to watch it performed.

Overall score: 7 – fun and refreshing.

Helpful articles/reviews:

Slashing the Tires on the Welcome Wagon: ‘Clybourne Park,’ by Bruce Norris at Walter Kerr Theatre. The New York Times. 

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