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Both ‘Raisin in the Sun’ and ‘Clybourne Park’ on stage in Boston

March 1, 2013
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Published by Metro

Two plays presented by two Boston theater companies explore the same issues in the same neighborhood.

In Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 classic “A Raisin in the Sun,” an intergenerational black family crammed in a tiny apartment on Chicago’s South Side attempts to buy a home in an all-white neighborhood.

Liesl Tommy, director of the Huntington Theatre production, can relate to the story. She grew up in a colored township in South Africa during Apartheid, in a house crammed with family members.

“It’s definitely informed the way that I’m working on this play, the set design, and how I want to attack this conversation around poverty, living in the projects and real estate,” she says.

Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park” picks up that discussion, first from the white community members’ point of view, and then from the same neighborhood 50 years later — when it has become a predominantly African-American area.

“Are we better off now than we were 50 years ago in terms of how we deal with race in this country? That’s the big question this play asks,” says Bevin O’Gara, director of the Speakeasy Stage Company’s production.

O’Gara also works at the Huntington Theatre, and she helped cast roles in both shows.

“It’s always interesting to see a different side of any story,” she says.

In terms of race, class and community, how much has our country really evolved? Says Tommy, “These issues are absolutely still relevant today in any major American city where people are aspiring to own homes and aspiring to move out of the lower class.”

 

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