Clybourne Park turns Lorraine Hansberry’s classic, A Raisin in the Sun, inside out.
“Clybourne Park seems to be opening somewhere every two weeks,” says Carla Steen, dramaturg of the Guthrie’s upcoming production of Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer Prize– and Tony Award–winning riff on A Raisin in the Sun. “Norris’s mix of humor and un-PC-ness tickles and makes people uncomfortable. It really hits a nerve.”
When it opened in 1959, A Raisin in the Sun—Lorraine Hansberry’s drama about the Younger family seeking a better life by buying a house in an all-white neighborhood—was the first Broadway play written by an African American woman. The first act of Clybourne Park focuses on the white family that sold the house to the Youngers, as well as the neighbors’ fears that a black family will depress property values. The second act, set 50 years later, is that situation’s ironic opposite: Now, a white family wants to buy the house, and the African American neighbors fear gentrification.
The play takes uncompromising and occasionally discomfiting swipes at issues of race, class, and economic status. “The characters are both good and bad,” Steen says. “They make us squirm,” she notes, because they make us think any one of us could say things along the same lines.
June 1–Aug. 4. Guthrie Theater, 612-377-2224, guthrietheater.org