‘Clybourne Park’ juxtaposes past and present

By Chase Myers

Even though dialect differs from decade to decade, similar social issues are presented in the McLeod’s final performance of the fall season.

The McLeod Theater will perform its rendition of “Clybourne Park,” which provides a unique juxtaposition of generations from the year 1959 to 2009.

The play, set in a Chicago neighborhood, was originally written by Bruce Norris and is directed at SIU by Segan Ojewuyi.


The central theme of the production revolves around a couple, Bev and Russ, who are eager to sell their house because of the memories surfacing of their son’s tragic death.

Members of the community encourage the couple to stay because the family purchasing their home is African-American.

One thing that stands out in this production is the time period change from the first and second acts. The first takes place in 1959 during the height of segregation, whereas the second takes place in 2009.

All the performers in the first act will be in the second as well, but as different characters.

“It was a lot more difficult to do act one than act two because act two is in 2009,” said Dan Heise, who plays Russ. “It was a lot easier to connect with that language because it was so kind of rapid fire.”

Heise, a senior from Columbia studying theater, said this will be his first major role in a McLeod Theater production.

He said it was much easier to transition from act one to act two, rather than two to one because it goes from an outdated style of speaking to a more relaxed one.


Heise said the social issues at hand are much more obvious in the first act, given the time period.

“In the ’50s it is a lot more direct,” he said. “One of the things our director touched on was that there’s this whole thing of this political correctness that comes into being by 2009.”

The subject of racism is “tap danced around” in the second act because people do not want to come out and say the issue of race is at hand, he said.

Other than race, the production has other themes such as grief and losing one close to you.

One person who was very attentive during the production was Vincent Rhomberg, McLeod Theater marketing coordinator.

Rhomberg said after watching the play he went home and had to process all of the elements that were brought up.

“The play is very layered,” he said. “There’s not a single thing that drives it through in terms of ‘Oh, this is about racism, or this is about dealing with the loss of a family,’ and burying those memories and wanting to move on … and at what point do we share that as a common human condition? … I think those resonated very highly with me.”

Heise said he wants the production to make people think rather than be a call for people to take action and enact change.

“If anything, I’m hoping it will make people think a lot more about the way the world is and how all those different relations work in today’s society,” Heise said.

The McLeod Theater will show “Clybourne Park” Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $16 for adults and $6 for students.