Starting this weekend, PlayMakers Repertory Company will join the conversation confronting issues of gentrification in Chapel Hill.
It has chosen two plays with the goal of bringing the community closer together.
ATTEND THE PREMIERE WEEKEND
Time: ”A Raisin in the Sun” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1/26, “Clybourne Park” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. See website for future showtimes.
Location: Paul Green Theatre
“A Raisin in the Sun,” written 50 years ago by Lorraine Hansberry, and “Clybourne Park,” written by Bruce Norris in 2009 as a response to “Raisin,” are being performed in rotating repertory through next month.
Joseph Haj, producing artistic director at PlayMakers, said the plays were chosen because they are a natural rotating repertory, and they have direct connections to Chapel Hill.
“When we look at the Northside neighborhood and the complications historically around black neighborhoods and gentrification that goes on, these issues fit squarely into the themes of both of these plays,” Haj said.
Raelle Myrick-Hodges, director of “Raisin,” said her goal in directing the show was to have people leave with a vivid conception of Hansberry.
“The production is an homage to a 28-year-old African-American female who was unpublished in 1959,” Hodges said.
“We also pay homage to the diversity of the African-American community by not assuming that this is the archetype of every family.”
Myrick-Hodges said she hopes “Raisin” makes people question their beliefs about women, minorities and gentrification.
“Our perception of what the female is — regardless of ethnicity — is generally misconstrued,” Myrick-Hodges said.
“Any black female who isn’t a hooker, or a drug addict, or has 15 babies, suddenly you feel as if you’re seeing a new character, when very few of the people in my life who are African-American are any of those things.”
Tracy Young, director of “Clybourne Park,” said Norris, the play’s writer, also intended for his play to make people question their beliefs.
“Bruce does not want ‘Clybourne Park’ to be a piece where people can come and be let off the hook or feel overly hopeful about the prognosis for human beings,” Young said. “He wants the play to confront us and ask us to wrestle with these issues and not live in a fantasy world where these issues are no longer as relevant as they have been.”
Miriam Hyman, who portrays Beneatha Younger in “Raisin,” said the play not only has themes about race, but it also carries lighter, encouraging themes.
“People should take away the idea that you don’t have to settle,” Hyman said. “The Younger family doesn’t settle for being considered less than in terms of education.”
Both plays encourage people to be honest with themselves about their beliefs, while also introducing humor into the dialogue.
“It’s challenging, because you want to give the audience permission to laugh,” Young said. “But Norris also wants people to be able to take the blinders off and contend with the realities such as they are.”
Both directors said they hope the plays bring Chapel Hill closer as a community.
“My hope is that people leave wanting to communicate better with their families,” Myrick-Hodges said.
“I want them to be more honest about where they are when it comes to race, gender and sexual orientation issues, and owning whatever it is they feel.”
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