CLYBOURNE PARK – A Bright Debut for Director Jonathan Moscone at A.C.T.

West Coast premiere extended through February 20th

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Playwright Bruce Norris’ CLYBOURNE PARK is a 2-part comedy/drama that deals with race relations and real estate and the ever-present polemic of who gets to live where, why, and how. Location-location-location. Clybourne Park is a middle class neighborhood in Chicago. How will these new neighbors effect the value of your home? Did the sellers bother to contact everyone else on the block about exactly who purchased the house? Perhaps the community should band together and re-purchase the property themselves, thus stalling what will inevitably turn into an influx of more and more of Them. Along with their political and culture issues. Have we all seen their plans for re-modeling? These people have no taste! What about that legal-obligation-thing of telling the buyers about the horrible death that happened upstairs? Do they know that the sellers’ son – a soldier in the Korean War – hanged himself when he got home?

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René Augesen (Beverly) and Anthony Fusco (Russ).
Photo, Erik Tomasson

Marking the A.C.T. mainstage debut of director Jonathan Moscone—longtime artistic director of California Shakespeare Theater , Clybourne Park cleverly spins the plot lines of A Raisin in the Sun to unfold a new story about race and real estate in America. Act I opens in 1959 as a white couple sells their home to a black family. Act II continues in the same house, but it’s now 2009 and the neighborhood has changed. The stakes are different, but the debate is strikingly familiar. Amid lightning-quick repartee – somewhat reminiscent of All In The Family – the characters scramble for control, revealing hard choices, deep rooted fears, and pent-up anxieties. Even the local minister bungles the situation with his spiritually mis-informed comebacks.

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Manoel Felciano (Minister Jim), René Augesen (Beverly),
Emily Kitchens (Betsy), Richard Thieriot (Karl)
Photo, Erik Tomasson

Director Bruce Morris believes that Bruce Norris is an extraordinary writer. “In this play he is able to depict the very delicate subject of race relations with a combination of piercing intelligence, genuine emotion, and sharp-edged humor. His voice is undeniable. I’m thrilled to be working with members of A.C.T.’s core acting company on this play, which is one of the most exciting and provocative pieces of theater I have ever read.” The cast—each of whom plays dual roles in the two different eras—includes members of the A.C.T. core acting company and recent graduates of the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Program. Core acting company members include René Augesen, Manoel Felciano, Anthony Fusco, and Gregory Wallace. Omozé Idehenre and Emily Kitchens were members of the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program class of 2010. Richard Thieriot rounds out the cast.

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Omozé Idehenre (Francine), Gregory Wallace (Albert), Richard Thieriot (Karl).
Photo, Erik Tomasson

“We know Clybourne Park will trigger fascinating debates throughout the whole Bay Area community,” says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. “We like to say that the third act of this play will be the postplay discussion.” In anticipation of lively audience response to the play – which delves into many timely topics – A.C.T. is adding Experts Talk Back, a new postshow discussion series, to the regularly scheduled InterACT events that will take place throughout the run of Clybourne Park. These talkbacks – scheduled for several Thursdays following the 8 pm performance – will feature local experts who will lead discussions about many of the provocative topics (including gentrification and other issues of race and class) that percolate throughout the production, specifically focusing on their relevance to the Bay Area.

The West Coast premiere of Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park has been extended through February 20th at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.). The five additional performances will take place on the following dates: Wednesday, February 16th through Saturday, February 19th at 8:00 pm; and Sunday, February 20th, at 7:00 pm.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Clybourne Park

MEET THE AUTHOR AND DIRECTOR

BRUCE NORRIS (Playwright) is a writer and an actor whose play Clybourne Park premiered at Playwrights Horizons and received subsequent productions at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., and the Royal Court Theatre in London. Other plays include The Infidel (2000), Purple Heart (2002), We All Went Down to Amsterdam (2003), The Pain and the Itch (2004), and The Unmentionables (2006), all of which premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. His work has also been produced at Lookingglass Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and the Staatstheater Mainz (Germany). Norris is the recipient of the 2009 Steinberg Playwright Award, the Whiting Foundation Prize for Drama, and the Kesselring Prize, Honorable Mention. He also received Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best New Work for his plays We All Went Down to Amsterdam and The Pain and the Itch. He currently resides in New York.

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Playwright Bruce Norris (left) and director Jonathan Moscone at the first rehearsal for Clybourne Park.
Photo, Evren Odcikin

JONATHAN MOSCONE (Director) is entering his 11th season as artistic director of California Shakespeare Theater, where his credits include the world premiere of John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven, Much Ado About Nothing, Happy Days, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and Twelfth Night. Recently, he was awarded the inaugural Zelda Fichandler Award by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation for “transforming the American theater through his unique and creative work.” Regional credits include Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Huntington Theatre Company, Intiman Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Goodspeed Musicals, Dallas Theater Center, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Portland Stage Company, and Magic Theatre. He is an adjunct faculty member of the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program and teaches at Berkley Rep’s School of Theater. Upcoming projects include the world premiere of Ghost Light with collaborator Tony Taccone for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Berkeley Rep and Amadeus for the Alley Theatre in Houston. He currently serves as a board member of Theatre Communications Group.

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Emily Kitchens, Richard Thieriot, Manoel Felciano, Gregory Wallace, Omozé Idehenre.
Photo, Erik Tomasson

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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