About the Show
A white community in 1950’s Chicago splinters over the black family about to move in. Fast-forward to our present day, and the same house represents very different demographics as we climb through the looking-glass of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun. These hilarious and horrifying neighbors pitch a battle over territory and legacy that reveals how far our ideas about race and gentrification have evolved—or have they?
"Woolly offers up one of its feistiest, funniest evenings in years that goes oh so right" – The Washington Post
"A skilled cast capable of bringing out all of Norris' barbed humor"– Washington Examiner
Read The Washington Post article:"Playwright explores race relations in 'Clybourne Park' at Woolly Mammoth Theatre."
"Superb, elegantly written, and hilarious"
–The New Yorker
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This production is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
BRUCE NORRIS (playwright) is a writer and actor whose play The Unmentionables was produced at Woolly Mammoth in 2007. His 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 had their premieres at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. His newest play A Parallelogram will premiere this year. His adaptation of Joe Orton’s Up Against It (1994) and The Vanishing Twin (1996) were seen at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre. His work has also been produced at Philadelphia Theatre Company, Playwrights Horizons, The Royal Court Theatre (London), and The Galway Festival (Ireland). He is the recipient of a Steinberg Playwright Award (2009), the Whiting Foundation Prize for Drama (2006), two Joseph Jefferson Awards (Chicago) for Best New Work, and the Kesselring Prize, Honorable Mention (2006). As an actor he has appeared in the films A Civil Action and The Sixth Sense, and in the upcoming film All Good Things. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
HOWARD SHALWITZ (Director, Woolly Mammoth Artistic Director) was co-founder of Woolly Mammoth and for 30 years has led the company on a unique path, focused on new plays that ask provocative questions, introduce fresh voices, and challenge theatrical convention. Both a director and an actor, Howard is one of the few artists to receive multiple Helen Hayes Award nominations in both categories. At Woolly he has directed nearly thirty plays including Fever/Dream, Measure for Pleasure, She Stoops to Comedy, and The Faculty Room, and appeared in The Gigli Concert, Lenny & Lou, and Rocket to the Moon, to mention just a few. He has directed for major New York and regional companies including Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Arena Stage, and Milwaukee Rep, and performed with Studio Arena, Soho Rep, New Jersey Shakespeare, and many more. A native of Buffalo, Howard studied philosophy at Wesleyan University and received a Masters in Teaching from Brown University before launching his theatre career in New York in 1975.
CAST & PRODUCTION
CHRIS DINOLFO (Kenneth) is excited and honored to be making his Woolly Mammoth debut with Clybourne Park. He is a native of Connecticut and graduated from Catholic University with a BA in Drama in 2006. Since then, he has performed with Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Studio Theatre and Studio Theatre 2ndStage, Folger Theatre, The Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences, The Keegan Theatre, and The Maryland Shakespeare Festival. He is very grateful to Howard and Bruce for creating a space for him in the neighborhood.
KIMBERLY GILBERT (Betsy/Lindsey) is rocking out her eighth Woolly show with this one. The earlier seven have been Fever/Dream ; Boom ; Measure for Pleasure ; The K of D ; Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis ; Big Death Little Death ; Cooking With Elvis. When she’s not under the Woolly roof she can be found being a Taffety Punk, a Tryster, and part-timing with The Army of Darkness. She is also a proud graduate of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy For Classical Acting. Much thanks goes out to Howard and Bruce for letting her play with this amazing group of artists. Opening night falls on my birthday, so this one goes out to Mom; she is my hero.
MICHAEL GLENN (Jim/Tom) has been a Washington-based actor for the last ten years and is thrilled to be making his Woolly Mammoth debut. He has performed at over a dozen area theaters in nearly fifty productions. Some favorites includeThe Hothouse, Power of the Dog, Dumb Waiter, Dogg's Hamlet/Cahoot's Macbeth (Longacre Lea); Arcadia, Twelfth Night (Folger Shakespeare Theatre), The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Fallen From Proust (Signature Theatre); Man of Destiny, O'Flaherty V.C., The Underpants, A Skull in Connemara, Major Barbara (Washington Stage Guild); Blood Knot, As You Like It (ACTCo). Michael can be seen next in the Folger's production of Hamlet, and later this summer in Longacre Lea's world premiere adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. Love to Sarah and the Rutabaga.
MITCHELL HÉBERT (Russ/Dan) is just plain thrilled to be back at Woolly, where he is a long-time company member. His credits at Woolly include: The Gigli Concert, Patience, Kvetch, and The Clean House. He has performed at many of the DC area’s leading theatres, including: Round House Theatre, where he is a member of its Artist’s Round Table; Olney Theatre Center, where he recently directed the critically acclaimed production of Rabbit Hole; Shakespeare Theatre Company; Studio Theatre; Theatre of the First Amendment; Rep Stage; and Everyman Theatre in Baltimore. He has been nominated for a Helen Hayes Award (Outstanding Lead Actor/The Drawer Boy) and received the Greater Baltimore Theatre Award for Outstanding Actor/Uncle Vanya. Mitchell has been on the faculty of the University of Maryland’s Department of Theatre since 1986. His students are working all over the country in every aspect of the entertainment world. For C + E.
JENNIFER MENDENHALL (Bev/Kathy) is delighted to be working at Woolly, where she has been a company member since 1988; shows include Measure for Pleasure, Dead Man's Cell Phone, Grace, Lenny and Lou, Homebody/Kabul (with Theatre J), Cooking With Elvis and The Day Room. She has enjoyed working with Howard and Kim before, but — amazingly — this is the first time with Mitchell, Dawn, Cody, Jefferson, Michael, and Chris! Shows elsewhere include: Angels in America at Forum, Legacy of Light at Arena Stage, Woman and Scarecrow at Solas Nua, The Accident at Theatre J, A Beautiful View and Crestfall at Studio Theatre Second Stage; Ambition Facing West, The Monument, You Are Here, Slaughter City at Theater Alliance; Humana Festival: dark play, or stories for boys...; Florida Stage: Cradle of Man. She has also appeared at The Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Studio Theatre and Metro Stage, among others. She has received the Washington Theatre Lobby Award and the Helen Hayes Award, and is a member of Actor’s Equity Association. As Kate Reading, she is an audiobook narrator. She lives in Hyattsville with her husband, Michael Kramer, and their two children, Henry and Vivian.
CODY NICKELL (Karl/Steve) is thrilled to be making his Woolly Mammoth debut in such an incredible project as Clybourne Park. WASHINGTON DC: Arcadia (Helen Hayes nomination), Macbeth, School For Scandal (Folger Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Theatre). NYC: Cherry Lane, The New York Fringe, The Mac Wellman Festival, The Kraine Theater, and numerous workshops at The Lark, Lincoln Center Theater, Ars Nova, and Epic Theater to name a few. REGIONAL: Portland Center Stage, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, San Jose Rep, Playmakers Rep, Capital Rep, Two River Theater, Arden Theatre, Wilma Theater, Stamford Theatre Works (Connecticut Critics Circle Award), Barrington Stage. TV and FILM: That 70’s Show, Celebrity Death Match, All My Children, Guiding Light, The Conan O’Brien Show, and the film Dorian Blues. Cody is a graduate of The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. As always, for Kate. www.codynickell.com
JEFFERSON A. RUSSELL (Albert/Kevin) has appeared with companies including Shakespeare Theatre Company, Ford's Theatre, Imagination Stage, Young Playwrights' Theatre, The Kennedy Center, NC Shakespeare Festival, and Rep Stage. Credits include HBO's The Wire; NBC's Homicide; David Emerson Toney's The Soul Collector (Cedric), Gem of the Ocean (Citizen Barlow), Hedda Gabler (Lovborg) at Everyman Theatre; One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (Scanlon) at Roundhouse; Blood Knot (Zachariah), A Raisin in the Sun (Walter Lee), A Lesson Before Dying (Grant Wiggins) with African Continuum Theatre; and Flyin' West (Frank), The Meeting (Malcolm X), Home (Cephus), and Before It Hits Home (Wendal) with Baltimore's Arena Players. Jefferson has a BA in Sociology/Criminal Justice from Hampton University, is a former Baltimore Police Officer, and is a founding member of Galvanize.
DAWN URSULA (Francine/Lena), a Woolly Company Member, was last seen here in Eclipsed, as well as The Unmentionables by Bruce Norris, The Velvet Sky, and Starving. Other credits include Two Rooms, Doubt, Gem of the Ocean, Yellowman (2005 Greater Baltimore Theatre Award for Outstanding Actress), Much Ado About Nothing and Light up the Sky at Everyman Theatre, where she is also a company member. 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Much Ado ... (Shakespeare Theatre ACA); Kate in Taming of the Shrew (Baltimore Shakespeare Festival); Butterfingers Angel… and Anna Lucasta (Rep Stage); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (ACTCo); Flyin’ West (True Colors); and Shear Madness, Mermaids, Monsters…, and Unleashed…(Kennedy Center). TV credits include HBO’s The Wire and the PBS documentary, Prince Among Slaves. Other awards include Baltimore City Paper's 2008 “Best Actress” Award and 2005 Best Production (Yellowman). Dawn received her BA from UVA and her MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting (GWU), is also a founding member of Galvanize.
JAMES KRONZERr (Set Designer) is a veteran designer with Woolly Mammoth. His previous shows here include Maria/Stuart and The Unmentionables (Helen Hayes nomination) among others. Recent shows in the area include The Solid Gold Cadillac at Studio Theatre, The Glass Menagerie at Olney Theatre Center, The Picture of Dorian Gray at Round House, Sweeney Todd and Showboat at Signature Theatre, Cinderella for the Washington Ballet, and The Beaux Stratagem at Shakespeare Theatre Company. His regional work has been seen at Arden Theatre, Denver Center, Playmakers, Wilma Theater, Pioneer Theatre, Clarence Brown, and in New York: Glory Days (Broadway), Opus (Primary Stages), and Under the Bridge (Zipper Theatre). His national tours include The Wizard of Oz, Seussical the Musical, Showboat, Big,and Damn Yankees. He has also designed a new musical for Disney called Twice Charmed. Jim has received the Helen Hayes Award eight times and is also a recipient of two Barrymore Awards in Philadelphia. He is a member of United Scenic Artists.
HELEN HUANG (Costume Designer) has designed costumes at Woolly Mammoth for Measure for Pleasure, Stunning, The Unmentionables, Current Nobody, Homebody/Kabul, and The Velvet Sky. Her other design credits include work at The Guthrie Theater, The Children’s Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Disney Creative Entertainment, and Boston Lyric Opera, among others. Helen has also designed for several DC-area theatres, including Studio Theatre, Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Olney Theatre Center, The Kennedy Center, and Theatre of the First Amendment. She is a recipient of a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Costume Design and the Ivey Award (Minneapolis). She is a professor in the MFA Costume Design Program in the Department of Theatre at the University of Maryland, College Park.
COLIN K. BILLS (Lighting Designer) is an Associate Artist at Woolly, where he has lit many productions including the world premieres of Eclipsed, Antebellum, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Fever/Dream, Maria/Stuart, and Stunning, among others. His work has been seen at The Berkshire Theatre Festival, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Didactic Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Forum Theatre, Imagination Stage, Intiman Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Maryland Stage, Metro Stage, Olney Theatre Center, Round House Theatre, The Smithsonian Institution, Studio Theatre, Synetic Theatre, Theatre for the First Amendment, Theater J, Tsunami Theatre, Vermont’s Northern Stage, the Washington Revels, and The Williamstown Theatre Festival. Colin won a 2008 Helen Hayes Award for Dead Man’s Cell Phone, and has been nominated seven times. He is a 2009 recipient of a Princess Grace Theater Fellowship, and is a graduate of Dartmouth College. He shares his life with his beautiful wife, Rachel.
MATT OTTO (Sound Designer) recent design credits include The K of D at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; Benidictus, The Price and 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother for Theater J; Black Nativity, Five Flights, and Woman Who Amuses Herself for Theatre Alliance; Momia En El Closet: The Return of Eva Perón and El Mejor Alcalde El Rey at GALA Hispanic Theatre; Go Dog Go, Strega Nona, Holes, Frosty the Snowman, and Harold and the Purple Crayon for Adventure Theatre; Lyle the Crocodile and As You Like It at Imagination Stage; Kafka’s Dick and House of Yes for Washington Shakespeare Company; Olney Theatre’s productions of Cinderella and Her Three Sisters and Godspell; and Seascape, Eccentricities of a Nightingale, and Ah, Wilderness! at American Century Theater. Some of Matt’s assistant credits are Barrio Grrrl at the Kennedy Center’s Family Theatre; Three Changes at Playwrights Horizons; Les Miserables and The Lieutenant of Inishmore for Signature Theatre; Measure for Pleasure, Stunning, Current Nobody, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, and Vigils at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; Ambition Facing West, In On It, and Insurrection: Holding History for Theatre Alliance; and The Tempest for Folger Shakespeare Theatre. Matt Otto received his degree in Sound Design from Boston University. For more details, please go to www.mattottosound.com.
KRISTIN LEAHEY (Dramaturg) is the Literary Manager at Woolly Mammoth. Some of her dramaturgical credits include works produced at Kennedy Center, Zach Scott Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, The Goodman Theatre, The Goodman Latino Theatre Festival, Teatro Luna, Teatro Vista, Eclipse Theatre, and A Red Orchid Theatre (where she served as the company’s literary manager). She is a Ph.D. candidate in dramaturgy at The University of Texas at Austin, where she is a recipient of a University of Texas Endowed Fellowship. Her publications include articles in Theatre Topics, Theatre History, and Theatre Studies, and she has taught in the theatre department at The University of Texas at Austin and in the Communications Department at DePaul University.
Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm and 7pm
(no 2pm performance March 21), plus one Tuesday 8pm show on March 30.
4pm matinee show and 9pm evening show added for Saturday, April 17.
Special performance dates:
- Pay-What-You-Can (PWYC): Mon, Mar. 15 & Tues, Mar. 16 at 8pm
Tickets sold at 6:30pm each evening, two per person, cash/check only. Lines begin forming between 5-5:30pm. Performances typically sell out.
- Audience Exchanges: following performances on March 17, 24, 25, 28 (7p), 30, 31, April 1, 7, 8, 11. For exchange guests, click here.
- Mammoth Forums: Urban Space: Massive Change following March 28 matinee; The Power of Language to Race following April 4 matinee. For forum guests, click here.
- Extension week: performances added for April 14 - 17.
- Sign-Interpreted Performance: 8pm, Thurs, Apr. 15.
Previews, 1st week: Wednesday and Thursday 8pm - $37 & $27;
Saturday 8pm - $56 & $46.
Regular price: Tuesday-Thursday 8pm and Sunday 7pm - $50 & $40; Friday 8pm and Sunday 2pm - $57 & $47; Saturday 8pm - $62 & $52.
Program Note: Raisin’s Children
Kristin Leahey, Production Dramaturg
During the cool Chicago summer of 1937, the Hansberrys moved to 6140 Rhodes Avenue. Upon their arrival a mob of white neighbors greeted the black family in an attempt to convince them to leave. At dusk, in response to the all but genial welcoming from the “improvement association,” Mrs. Nannie Hansberry fired a P08 pistol into the temperate Chicago sky. The crowd dispersed – at least for that evening. Shortly thereafter, a neighbor hurled a rock through the Hansberry’s front window, which nearly hit one of the family’s four young children. Although the rock missed Lorraine Hansberry’s skull, the incident propelled the NAACP and Carl Hansberry, a leading civil rights litigator and the family’s patriarch, to file a lawsuit to combat legal segregation in the north. In 1940, the Supreme Court ruled in Hansberry’s favor on a technicality, while declining to publically address the housing issues in America’s most segregated city: Chicago.
As a result of Shelley v. Kramer (1948), the Court openly declarednorthern residential segregation unconstitutional. Perhaps the 1946 occurrences of twenty-seven bombings and a demonstration of over 5,000 people to keep blacks out of a Chicago public housing project contributed to this ruling. Violence attributed to racial discord continued to ravage the Windy City. Between 1956 and 1958 alone, the Chicago Tribune reported 250 incidents of racial violence, a total that included at least thirty-eight arson cases. Yet, in 1959 the first Broadway play by an African American female graced the New York stage. Mirroring the many traumatic events she experienced and witnessed as a child in Chicago, Lorraine Hansberry introduced the world to her world – with A Raisin in the Sun.
In the play, matriarch Lena Younger lives with her extended family in a cramped apartment on Chicago’s South Side. Following the death of her hard working husband, she receives an insurance check for $10,000 and surprises the family by placing a down payment on a house located in Clybourne Park, an affordable white neighborhood. Karl Lindner, a representative from the neighborhood association, visits the family and tells them that the association has offered to buy the house back at a higher price in order to prevent the black family from moving in. In the play's final scene, Walter Lee, the family’s son, explains to Lindner that he comes from a line of plain and proud people and that the Youngers will move into their new home because their father “earned it for us brick by brick.”
Critics and audiences alike lauded the play for its intimate and authentic representation of black life during the mid-twentieth century, as well as its universal appeal to multiethnic audiences. Americans could identity with the Youngers, the play’s central family, and their search for the American dream. In her creation, Hansberry first and foremost desired to expose audiences to the racial inequality found in the north spurred by endemic residential segregation. In an interview with Studs Terkel, Hansberry noted, “[N]ot only is this a Negro family, specifically and definitely culturally, but it’s not even a New York family or a southern Negro family. It is specifically a Southside Chicago [family].” The scholar and playwright Amiri Baraka contends that white America appropriated the play, rendering it a story of class mobility. Baraka urges for its reclamation as a work depicting blacks striving to defeat segregation. Evan if the play’s universalisms clarify or overshadow Hansberry’s principal argument, the classic continues to resonate with generations of new audiences and artists, inspire questions of identity and community, and draw attention to the fact that racial conflict remains a part of the American psyche.
Nearly fifty years after the opening of Hansberry’s revolutionary play, the term “post-racial” entered the American consciousness with the 2008 election of the U.S.’s first African American President. Yet, in February 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder remarked in respect to the dialogue regarding race, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” Similar to the Youngers, many families today scratch and claw to attain the American Dream, while many individuals, in part because of discrimination, fail to reach it. Although Hansberry stirs a universalizing sense of hope in audiences, she instills a portentous message delivered by Karl Linder: “I sure hope you know what you people are getting into.” Upon moving into a primarily white neighborhood the Youngers, the Hansberrys, and their new neighbors approach a precipice of uncertainty. As a nation, still struggling with racial tension, we also now meet at a threshold of both daunting and hopeful uncertainty.
Jennifer Mendenhall in
Clybourne Park (2010)
Michael Glenn and Cody Nickell in Clybourne Park (2010)
Woolly Mammoth would like to thank the following patrons for their generous support of Clybourne Park:
National Endowment for the Arts
Adler Family Fund
The Alper Family Foundation
David S. Cohen & Craig Benson
The Greene-Milstein Family Foundation
Wendy W. Hagen
William L. Hopkins & Richard Anderson
Rosalyn E. Jones
Roger K. Lewis & Eleanor Roberts
Hazel C. Moore
Shelly & Barbara Repp
Julie Rosenthal & Mark McCaffrey
Irene & Alan Wurtzel
Show Art Concept & Design:
Carolyn Sewell Design