Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Saw Claybourne Park last night

So Claybourne Park was at a very small theater near me in 2010 and I missed it.  Well, it went on to London (and won the Oliver Award for Best New Play), won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, visited the Mark Taper in January and, long story short, I felt a little dumb to miss it.
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So I went and saw it last night on Broadway.

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It is fascinating.  Act 1 is set in 1959 (year of my birth) when a black family moves into a white neighborhood.  This was a big, weird deal in the olden days.  Not to be politically incorrect (it was a different time), my grandparents lived in Inglewood which was one of the middle class suburbs that changed due to the dynamics of the time.  A few black families moved in, then all the white families moved out.  My grandparents stayed for a long time, but the housing prices went way down (I said it was a long time ago).
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In Claybourne Park, some of the white neighbors try to convince the family to stay - or at least sell to a group of them that have rallied to purchase the house so a black family can't move in.
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Act 2 is set in the same house, in the same neighborhood - 50 years later.  In the interim, the neighborhood has become African American - and inner city decline has taken over.  Crime has gone up as the city center decayed.  But now, 2009, gentrification has come up and a yuppie couple is buying the house.  Buying and rebuilding a mini-McMansion.  Now, the African American neighborhood association wants to keep the character of the neighborhood and not drive out everyone with crazy prices.
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Of course, this is just the frame the  story sits on.  It is about community and family and ostracism.  Great show - and surprisingly funny, and I will review it later.

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