A Visit to Clybourne Park: Pure Drama

BY Sarah Dowdey / POSTED May 28, 2012
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Clybourne Park According to Pam MacKinnon, audiences react differently to the combination of humor and uncomfortable moments in “Clybourne Park.” Photo credit: Nathan Johnson

Deblina and I recently interviewed Pam MacKinnon, the director of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer-winning play, “Clybourne Park.” This post is the third in a three-part series on the play, the historical research that went into it, and the connection to Lorraine Hansberry and her work, “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Reading a play is always a vastly different experience from seeing one performed live. It’s not just the actors’ interpretation and delivery, or the costumes, setting and lighting. It’s the experience of being in a theatre, with an audience, that changes how you see what’s on the page. And since Deblina and I have read “Clybourne Park” but not seen it performed live, we were interested in knowing how the mixture of funny and uncomfortable moments in Bruce Norris’ script came across on stage.

Pam MacKinnon — who’s directed the play in Los Angeles, as well as off-Broadway and on in New York City — told us that it really depends on the audience. Broadway crowds seemed more inclined to laugh and live it up, since they usually come expecting a show. Plus, with seats for nearly 1,000 people, there’s more anonymity in each laugh. For the off-Broadway stagings, however, she told us audiences tended to approach the performance as something serious, experimental or edgy.

If you want to learn more about the history of the Broadway theatre district (the subway system proved to be a real game-changer!), check out the HowStuffWorks video on Broadway below.

[hsw-discovery-video id=51893-title network=hsw width=512]

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