CLYBOURNE PARK to Run 1/18-2/16 at Cincinnati Playhouse

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Broadway's Tony Award for Best Play. London's Olivier Award for Best New Play. There's only one show in history that can claim all three honors. The Playhouse is proud to kick off the second half of its Marx Theatre season with Bruce Norris' CLYBOURNE PARK, running Jan. 18 through Feb. 16.

With successful runs in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, London and Washington, D.C., among many others, CLYBOURNE PARK has become one of the most produced plays of the past two theatre seasons. It's easy to understand why. For its biting satire of race and real estate, CLYBOURNE PARK earned accolades from critics as varied as The New Yorker (which described the show as "superb, elegantly written and hilarious") and Entertainment Weekly (which hailed the play as "indisputably, uproariously funny").

CLYBOURNE PARK'S two acts are set 50 years apart. The first takes place in 1959. Russ and Bev have recently sold their modest bungalow in the quaint Chicago neighborhood that provides the play's title. But as they prepare for a move they hope will offer them a fresh start after a recent family heartbreak, they receive an unexpected visit from Karl Lindner, a representative of the local community association. Unknown to Bev and Russ, their home has been purchased by a black family, a first for the street and a point of concern for neighbors such as Lindner, who are worried about what such changes could mean for their own property values.

Fast forward to 2009. Steve and Lindsey, white suburbanites eager to start their new life as city dwellers, are deep in negotiations over proposed renovations to the same home owned 50 years earlier by Bev and Russ. They intend to raze the house in favor of new construction. That plan is met with frustration by their black neighbors Kevin and Lena, who worry about its effect on the historic character of the street and its existing homes.

Despite the separation of a half-century, the conversation in both acts takes a turn from the polite and politically correct, respectively, to the no-holds-barred, and no one is held blameless for the escalation. While the stakes have changed, the debate remains strikingly familiar as playwright Norris investigates the way we talk - or don't - about race, class, gender and more.

CLYBOURNE PARK officially began life in 2010 at New York's Playwrights Horizons, but its journey actually started years earlier. In 1959, first-time playwright Lorraine Hansberry made her Broadway debut with the seminal work A Raisin in the Sun. That play tells the story of the Younger family, whose matriarch uses her husband's life insurance money to escape the projects of Chicago's South Side. The Youngers are never mentioned by name in CLYBOURNE PARK but the one character who actually appears in both plays is: Karl Lindner, who visits the Youngers late in Raisin to try to convince them not to move to his neighborhood. Though each play stands entirely on its own, avid theatregoers who have seen A Raisin in the Sun on stage or film will enjoy the parallel stories when viewing CLYBOURNE PARK.

Associate Artist Timothy Douglas, who made his Playhouse debut with last season's
The Trip to Bountiful, will direct CLYBOURNE PARK. Douglas believes the issues raised in the play cover a lot more than race. "It's only a play about race because it has black and white people on the stage at the same time," he told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I prefer to think of it as a play about rhetoric and cultural sensitivities in which individuals in the audience get the chance to weigh in on themselves. Pardon the pun, but not all issues in the play are black and white."

CLYBOURNE PARK'S cast features Deonna Bouye as Francine/Lena, Samuel Ray Gates as Albert/Kevin, Wilbur Edwin Henry as Russ/Dan, Deirdre Madigan as Bev/Kathy, Caley Milliken as Betsy/Lindsey, Michael Place as Jim/Tom, Sam Rueff as Kenneth and Rex Young as Karl/Steve. The creative team includes set designer Tony Cisek, costume designer Tracy Dorman, lighting designer Mary Louise Geiger and sound designer Matthew M. Nielson.

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