“Clybourne Park” takes center stage at Seton Hill University

Photo by H.Zunic/Setonian.

Having opened on Friday, Feb. 22, Seton Hill’s production of “Clybourne Park” moves into its second and final week of performances. Three performances remain with one show on Friday, March 1 at 8 p.m., and two shows on Saturday, March 2 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in SHU’s William Granger Ryan Theatre at the Performing Arts Center.

“Clybourne Park” by Bruce Norris is the winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play, and 2011 winner of the Pulitzer Prize Drama. “Clybourne Park” is Norris’ response to Lorraine Hansberry’s famous play “A Raisin in the Sun.” The show focuses on events that happen before and after those in “A Raisin in the Sun” while centering around the discrimination African Americans face prior to the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1950s and subsequent discrimination in 2009.

It should be noted that even though this show is a satirical piece, it contains language that may be unsuitable or offensive for some audience members.

“The show is fun, serious and hilarious,” said senior political science major and theatre arts minor William Weber. “I really hope the audience laughs, but I hope that they understand the serious issues that the show discusses.”
Weber plays the duel role of attorney Tom Driscoll and Jim, a priest from a local church. “Playing Jim is extremely difficult, it is really hard to say these racist remarks when you don’t agree with them personally,” Weber said.

“[Clybourne Park] exposes the hypocrisy of the subject matter [racism], and while it is a satirical piece, the writing is so brilliant that it isn’t that difficult to poke fun at ourselves at how we awkwardly deal with these issues,” said director of “Clybourne Park” and theatre professor Denise Pullen. “The central idea of this show is: ‘wow, we really need to get better at this.’ Which is something that I hope audiences take away; I also really hope the audiences laugh.”

While the subject matter is a hard pill for some to swallow, audiences so far have been roaring with laughter at Norris’ brilliant writing. It makes you feel awkward, but it also makes you laugh uncontrollably as the cast not only handles the subject matter adeptly, but the transitions between scenes filled with tension to laugh out loud comedy as well.

“I hope that audiences will continue to find the humor in the show, and continue to enjoy themselves,” said junior theatre performance and business administration major Cameron Nickel upon opening night. Nickel, like the majority of the cast, plays duel roles within the show and portrays Karl and Steve.

The rest of the student cast includes Nicole Castelli as Bev and Kathy, Stacey Fils as Francine and Lena, Liam Johnston as Kenny, Layne Lueckert as Betsy and Lindsey, Malcom McGraw as Albert and Kevin and Travis Miller as Russ and Dan.

“I couldn’t ask for better students,” Pullen said. “The script is not easy as everyone talks over each other and is explosive. Lines are difficult to learn at times, but all the students arrive ready to work.”

The final theatre performance of the semester will be “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov on April 5-13. Tickets for both “The Seagull” and for the final performances of “Clybourne Park” can be purchased at the SHU box office in the Performing Arts Center or online.

Published By: Stephen Dumnich

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