Tony-winning play looks at race and real estate

'Clybourne Park' uses biting satire to explore tribalism and property in two scenarios 50 years apart, based on events that played out in hundreds of U.S. neighborhoods.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 11, 2012 1:50PM

The winner of this year's Tony award for best play is a dark, satiric look at race and real estate.


"Clybourne Park," the play by Bruce Norris that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2011, is set in the same fictional Chicago neighborhood where Lorraine Hansberry set her 1959 play, "A Raisin in the Sun." The first act of this play, too, is about an African-American family – the same family, in fact – preparing to move into a white neighborhood.


The second act of "Clybourne Park," set in 2009, is set in the same room of the same house, now dilapidated, as a young white couple seeks to buy and raze the modest home and erect a McMansion. The gentrification coming to the all-black neighborhood is vehemently opposed by the African-American neighbors, who see intruders ruining their neighborhood.


"Clybourne Park" is less optimistic than Hansberry's 1959 play, a reminder that the intersection of race and real estate is still a touchy subject more than 50 years later.

"'Clybourne Park' says that when it comes to race in America, not that much has changed over the past half-century, the historic arrival of an African-American family in the White House notwithstanding," Frank Rich wrote in an essay in New York Magazine.

The play's director, Pam MacKinnon, said she tried to show the nuances of her characters' anger. She also has a more optimistic view of race relations and people's capacity to adapt. She told

Blouin Art Info:

"What I think Bruce’s message in 'Clybourne Park' is that we, as a species, have some core things. We are tribal. We have this piece of property and that is why we go to war, to defend it. As Steve [the white man trying to buy the house in 2009] says, 'The history of America is the history of private property.'" 
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