By Abigail Roberts | Echo
As fall blows in, students rush to and from classes, the air grows crisp and in rolls another line-up of outstanding Taylor theater productions.
Last night, in the first of its many showings this weekend, "Clybourne Park," Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Bruce Norris, premiered as the first play of the 2017-2018 school year. Sure to stir up conversations, this play offers much more than entertainment. It goes beyond telling a story, latching itself to audience members' personal stories and pulling them along for the ride.
Each of us have been culturally or racially offended, some to greater degrees than others. Perhaps the greatest err, similar to the character Steve played by senior Sean Sele, is not knowing what being offended means or how to honestly talk about these issues of race and ethnicity.
"Within 'Clybourne Park' we (the cast and crew) have created a space where we can talk about differences in a grace-filled and vulnerable way," said Tracy Manning, managing and artistic director of theater.
"Theater (allows us to study) what it means to be human in a fun, collaborative way where we see the power of words becoming flesh," Manning said.
In act two, the character Tom Driscoll, played by senior Ty Kinter, perhaps states the story arc best: "While I would love to sit here with you and review all of American history maybe we could concentrate on . . . your property," ("Clybourne Park", pg. 73).
While audience members cannot review all of American history in a two hour sitting, by concentrating on the familiar themes of family, home (property) and legacy in the time periods of 1959 and 2009, audience members come one step closer to re-assessing personal concepts of race.
In a hilarious yet painful banter over the sale of a home in Clybourne Park, two communities, one white and one black, struggle though stereotypes, offenses and hurt, leaving the audience wondering how far the world really has progressed on the conversation of race.
"The thing is communities change, that's just the reality," ("Clybourne Park" pg. 70) In response, audience members cannot help but ask themselves, "So as communities change, what change is required in me?"
However, "Clybourne Park" isn't just a show about race. "Look for the little things," Kinter said. "You (also) see (representations of) people with disabilities, mental illnesses and various genders."
So, from real Neapolitan ice cream, the incorporation of sign language and a set transformation that functions as much more than just an intermission, Taylor theater once again delivers theatrical excellence. It is evident that the cast and crew have gone above and beyond putting their heart and soul into honestly communicating each detail of Bruce Norris' award-winning production. With three more showings this weekend, don't miss this opportunity to sit down, unpack your beliefs and step into a place unfamiliar yet strangely familiar to us all.