Theatre UAB presents “Clybourne Park” Oct. 15-19

“Clybourne Park” explores race relations and gentrification in surprising and wickedly funny ways, with the changing face of a Chicago neighborhood as backdrop.

Clybourne Park-4Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play “Clybourne Park” will open the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Theatre’s 2014-2015 season, with performances Oct. 15-19.

The changing face of Chicago’s Clybourne Park is the backdrop for this play, which cleverly incorporates elements of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” It takes place in a fictional neighborhood just outside of Chicago, in the same house on a single afternoon 50 years apart: Act 1 in 1959 and Act 2 in 2009. In the all-white Clybourne Park of 1959, the white homeowners have accepted an offer to sell their house to an African-American family. This family will be the first family of color in the Clybourne Park neighborhood. Act 2 is set 50 years later, and has a parallel but reverse structure. During the last 50 years, the neighborhood has transitioned into an all-black neighborhood. Now, due to its proximity to downtown Chicago, and rising property values, it has begun to be desirable to affluent white-collar professionals. Both situations give rise to heated debate.

“Clybourne Park” explores race relations and gentrification in surprising and wickedly funny ways. Written by Bruce Norris, the UAB production will be directed by Professor Dennis McLernon. This play contains strong adult language and themes.

"Clybourne Park” explores race relations and gentrification in surprising and wickedly funny ways. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15-18 and 2 p.m. Oct. 19. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit Theatre UAB online at

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15-18, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. General admission tickets are $12 and $15, $6 for students, and $10 for UAB employees and senior citizens. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit Theatre UAB online at

“Clybourne Park” is a provocative journey through race, economic class, gender, neighborhood gentrification, free markets, personal identity, white-flight and political correctness, McLernon says.

“The true value of this play is in the complex questions it places before the audience through the characters about race, class and capitalism,” McLernon said. “‘Clybourne Park’ examines the words we all use and the games we all play to maintain political correctness, as well as the kinds of masks we employ that allow us to put the best face on our own personal gain.”

The Department of Theatre, in conjunction with the UAB African American Studies Program, will host a half-hour community conversation immediately following the performance of “Clybourne Park” on Saturday, Oct. 18. Kathryn Morgan, Ph.D., director of the African American Studies Program, and McLernon, head of performance in the Department of Theatre, will moderate the conversation. Actors from the play will be available to field questions from the audience, and audience members are encouraged to stay and participate in the discussion of the themes presented in the play.

The cast is Kyle Hulcher of Fort Worth, Texas, as Russ; Alora King of Boonsboro, Maryland, as Bev; Calvin Nielsen of Budapest, Hungary, as Steve; and Alabama cast members Ben Lundy of Fairhope as Jim; Mark Nelson of Fort Payne as Karl; Lauren Seale of Greenville as Betsy; Jonielle Osborne of Huntsville as Francine; Terrance Campbell of Leeds as Albert; Joseph Baude of Arab as Dan; Alex Ingram of Birmingham as Kathy; Blake Tanner of Corner as Tom; Bliss Bailey of Tuscaloosa as Lindsey; Carla Smith of Birmingham as Lena; Russell Alexander of Montgomery as Kevin; and Seth Burgess of Corner as Kenneth. The student crew includes stage manager Vickie Morales of San Jose, California; assistant stage managers Bethany Maldon of Trussville and Phoebe Miller of Birmingham; assistant scenic designer Taylor Dole of Pelham; and assistant props designer Lauren Edwards of Chelsea.

The UAB Department of Theatre is part of the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. Theatre UAB chooses its plays each season to offer students the widest array of roles and experience possible, and to give student actors the skills they will need in the world of professional theater.

Upcoming shows in the season include “Women of War,” an original work created by Kennedy Center honors student Rebecca Harper and Professor Karla Koskinen, Nov. 12-15 and Nov. 19-22, followed by “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)” for mature audiences only, Feb. 18-22, 2015. The 12th annual Festival of 10-Minute Plays is set for March 9-14, 2015, and the season will culminate in the quotable and quirky musical “Avenue Q” from April 8-12, 2015. For season tickets or more information, visit the UAB Department of Theatre online or call 205-934-3236.