Clybourne Park

Bruce Norris’ award-winning Clybourne Park is a provocative, satirical exploration of race in America. Often paired in production with Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun which was its inspiration, Clybourne Park has gone on to inspire other playwrights to continue the discussions at the heart of Hansberry’s seminal work.

In 1959, Russ and Bev have lost their connection to their community and have decided to leave their Clybourne Park home for a nice little spot in the suburbs close to Russ’ work. Clashes arise when the Community Association learns that the new residents will be a black family, the first in the neighborhood. Fast forward to 2009, when the same property is being sold to a young white couple who is planning to demolish the house and start over. A petition to the Landmarks committee by some black neighbors hopes to protect the historic qualities of the current structure. In both of these negotiations, Clybourne Park is a community on the brink of change, pushing its residents to decide which side of history they will be on. Clybourne Park explores what constitutes a neighborhood and who owns the right to preserve it.

as a part of THE RAISIN CYCLE

Initially set on the same day as the final scene in A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park looks at the Younger family’s story from the perspective of the Near North Side Chicago neighborhood where Lena Younger just purchased a home. Jumping from 1959 to 2009, the play also considers the repercussions for the next generation as Lena Younger’s great-niece navigates a new type of changing neighborhood.

playwright Bruce Norris

Bruce Norris (b.1960 - ) graduated from Northwestern University and became an actor and playwright based in Chicago and New York. He is currently an ensemble member of Steppenwolf Theatre, but his plays have been produced across the country as well as abroad. Clybourne Park is his most acclaimed work, winning a Tony Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Laurence Olivier Award, the Evening Standard Award, and the London Critics Circle Award for Best New Play. His catalogue of plays also includes The Infidel, Purple HeartWe All Went Down to AmsterdamThe Pain and the ItchThe UnmentionablesA ParallelogramDomesticatedThe Qualms, and Downstate all of which had their premieres at Steppenwolf Theatre over the course of 18 years. He has also written The Actor RetiresThe Vanishing TwinThe Low Road, and an adaptation of Brecht’s Arturo Ui. He was the recipient of the Steinberg Playwright Award, the Whiting Foundation Prize for Drama, as well as two Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best New Work.

director Mark Baer

Mark Baer is in his ninth year teaching Acting and Directing for Indiana University Northwest. In that time he has directed 13 productions including Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, Phillip Dawkins’ Failure: A Love Story, and Lisa Kron’s Well. Mark is co-founder and president of Gary Shakespeare Company with whom he has directed Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and Hamlet. He has also directed around the Midwest including A Streetcar Named Desire for St. Croix Festival Theatre, The Nightmare Room for Towle Theatre and Sweeney Todd for City Circle Acting Company. Mark is a member of the Society of American Fight Directors and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. He resides in Crown Point with his wife Kelly and daughter Samantha.

dramaturg Annaliese McSweeney

Annaliese McSweeney is a freelance dramaturg in Chicago and northern Indiana. She previously worked with IUN on Failure: A Love Story (2016). She has also worked with Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame on 9 to 5 (2018). Her professional work includes Detour Guide by Karim Nagi (Silk Road/Stage Left, 2019), Her Majesty’s Will by Rob Kauzlaric (Lifeline Theatre, 2017), The Bottle Tree by Beth Kander (Stage Left Theatre, 2016), Mosque Alert by Jamil Khoury (Silk Road Rising, 2016), Miss Buncle’s Book by Christina Calvit(Lifeline, 2015), The White Road by Karen Tarjan (Irish Theatre of Chicago, 2015) and numerous development projects with Stage Left Theatre where she was the literary manager from 2016-18. She has also worked on research with Irish Theatre of Chicago, Lifeline Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, and American Theater Company. Annaliese has a BA in Theatre and Psychology as well as an M.Phil in Theatre and Performance from Trinity College, Ireland.

scenic design Katherine Arfken

Katherine Arfken is an IUN faculty member and resident scenic designer with Theatre Northwest where she recently designed scenery for Well and afterlife: a ghost story. Chicago credits include work with Infamous Commonwealth Theatre and The Bottle TreeMuttThe CowardA Day in the Death of Joe Egg and Insurrection: Holding History with Stage Left Theatre, where she is an artistic associate. Kathy is a graduate of Knox College and Brandeis University. more information at

costume design Brenda Winstead

lighting design

sound design

Act 1

Russ (white, 40s)

Bev (married to Russ; white, 40s)

Francine (black, 30s)

Albert (married to Francine, black, 30s)

Jim (white, 20s)

Karl (white, 30s)

Betsy (married to Karl, late 20s)

Act 2

Tom (played by the actor who played Jim)

Lindsey (played by the actor who played Betsy)

Kathy (played by the actor who played Bev)

Steve (married to Lindsey; played by the actor who played Karl)

Lena (played by the actor who played Francine)

Kevin (married to Lena;played by the actor who played Albert)

Dan (played by the actor who played Russ)

Kenneth (played by the actor who played Jim)


“I saw A Raisin in the Sun as a film in probably 7th grade. Interestingly our Social Studies teacher was showing it to a class of all white students who lived in an independent school district, the boundaries of which had been formed specifically to prevent being our being integrated into the Houston school district and being bussed to other schools with black students. So I don’t know whether our teacher was just obtuse or crafty and subversive but she was showing us a movie that basically in the end -- because Karl doesn’t come in until the second act -- is really pointing a finger at us and saying we are those people. So I watch it at twelve years old and I could realize even then that I’m Karl Linder. To see that when you’re a kid and to realize that you’re the villain has an impact. For years I thought I wanted to play Karl Linder…” (Interview with Rebecca Rugg)

[Norris] wrote, “that we, the all-white students of my school, were the offspring of Karl Lindner. That’s a lesson that sticks with you, the lesson that you are, essentially the villain in someone else’s story. Many years later I thought, what if we turned the story around and told it from the opposite angle, the angle of people like my family, the villains, the ones who wanted to keep them out?” (NY Times)

What the playwright says about the play: “I think it is a play for white people. It’s a play about white people. It’s about the white response to race, about being the power elite, about being the people who have power in the race argument, and what that makes us in the present day - the contortions that makes us go through. Because on the Left we really, really like to deny the power that we have. We don’t want to seem like we’re powerful and have the largest army in the world. We want to pretend that we don’t. So, while the play is about white people, it’s even better if there are black people in the audience because it makes white people even more uncomfortable. (Interview with Rebecca Rugg)