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Ole Miss Theatre kicks off fall season with Clybourne Park

 

Ole Miss Theatre is starting its fall season with a poignant show that’s perhaps more relevant than ever.

“Clybourne Park” is a 2010, Pulitzer Prize-winning play written by Bruce Norris, created as a spin-off to Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 classic, “A Raisin in the Sun”. At the center of “Clybourne” are two families separated by 50 years, one black and one white. In the first act, which takes place in 1959, a white couple have sold their home to a black family and the second act reverses the deal, but in 2009.

The director of the play, Rory Ledbetter, says that the play speaks to race relation issues that have taken center stage in America, particularly as of late.   

“We’ve made so much progress since 1959 in the realm of racial reconciliation, but there are still all these inherent prejudices,” Ledbetter said. “One of the things that this play does really well is bringing to life a lot of these thoughts and beliefs that a lot of audience members have either had or perhaps are having from both a black and white perspective, and holds a mirror to examine it, adjust it and make sense of it on our own.”

‘Top notch’ cast

Ledbetter says that even though the characters in the play are all older than college students, the “brilliant” script has made it easier for his students to get into character.

“The cast I’ve assembled is top notch,” Ledbetter said. “They’ve been soaring above expectations.”

While some plays can be a call to action, Ledbetter wants this show to make audiences ruminate on the topics at hand.

“The play presents a lot of thought-provoking ideas which starts conversation,” Ledbetter said. “It’s my hope that this play will initiate more and more conversations.”

The remaining dates for “Clybourne Park” are tonight at 7:30 p.m, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m., Oct. 4-8 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 8-9 at 2 p.m., with all shows taking place in Meek Hall Auditorium.

To accompany the show, there will be symposium lunches to further discuss the issues presented in “Clybourne”. The first speaker, John Green, director of the UM Center for Population Studies, will be at noon today in Meek Hall Auditorium. The second, Rebecca Marchiel, an assistant professor of history will be on Oct. 5 at noon in the Meek Hall Auditorium as well. The final speaker, Jennifer Stollman, the academic director of the UM William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, will be on Oct. 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the Winter Institute on the third fall of Lamar Hall.