Finding the Heart of Your Neighborhood with Clybourne Park
Sarah Moore interviews executive producer Nicole Kastrinos about the new Pulitzer Prize-winning play on Broadway.
Christina Kirk and Frank Wood prepare to sell their house in Clybourne Park (© Joan Marcus)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning play Clybourne Park is currently playing on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater, after beginning Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons two years ago.
Playwright Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park paints a portrait of one neighborhood in 1959 in the first act, and the same neighborhood in 2009, and tackles tough questions about race relations and prejudice, no matter what the time period. For those familiar with A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park is a story about the fictional neighborhood where the Youngers find a new house, and how this neighborhood has changed over the years.
Directed by Pam MacKinnon, the excellent cast includes Crystal A. Dickinson, Brendan Griffin, Damon Gupton, Christina Kirk, Annie Parisse, Jeremy Shamos, and Frank Wood.
To celebrate the opening of Clybourne Park, the producers are asking fans what's at the heart of their own neighborhood, with a contest where people can win two tickets to the show by tweeting @TheaterMania with hashtag #tmneighborhood and describing what they feel is "at the heart" of their neighborhood, be it a physical place or an idea.
I had the opportunity to speak with executive producer Nicole Kastrinos of Red Awning, a division of Jujamcyn which is producing the play, and she emphasized that the audience does not need to read the play that Clybourne Park was inspired by, beforehand.
NICOLE KASTRINOS: Familiarity with Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking play is not a prerequisite to fully understand or enjoy Clybourne Park . But for those who do know it, it only adds a compelling layer of meaning and richness to the experience.
SARAH MOORE: In addition, Clybourne Park focuses on families moving in and out of the Clybourne Park neighborhood. Are you hoping that audiences can relate to this, for example in the way that New York has changed over the last generation?
NK: Absolutely. The experience of laying down roots is at the heart of American history, from the first settlers carving out a new life for their families. There's a great line in the second act, "The history of America is the history of private property." The fluidity of neighborhoods over generations is particularly resonant in the great melting pot of New York. From Soho to Williamsburg to Harlem, these neighborhoods have experienced the same historical transformations that are characterized in the play, and will continue to do so. New Yorkers have been having this conversation for generations.
SM: What has been the most exciting or the hardest part of the process of putting Clybourne Park on Broadway for you?
NK: It is so gratifying to work on such a powerful and provocative piece. The journey of this production began at Playwrights Horizons and continued to the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, picking up a Pulitzer Prize and thrilling audiences along the way. Bringing it home to Broadway is the most fitting culmination, and I am excited that we are able to provide the opportunity for thousands more people to see this extraordinary play. One of the interesting challenges, I would say, is effectively communicating to those who haven't seen it just how hysterically funny it is. I encourage all of your readers not to take my word for it; please join us at the Walter Kerr and experience it for yourselves!
Clybourne Park is currently in previews and opens April 19. For more information and tickets click here.