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February 21, 2011


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Aaron Grunfeld

I had the identical thoughts when I read that article. That German production sounds shockingly blunt & retrograde, even racist from an American POV.

VW (SF Actor)

Saw closing night of Clybourne Park at ACT in San Francisco last night, and in the program notes, there's an interview w/Bruce Norris by the dramaturg, who is from Italy - she says 'people who are not from the united states, and I am one of them, complain that there's so much political correctness about race here that it's impossible to make jokes about it; but then the longer we are here, the clearer it becomes that there are scars that are simply too deep to be made fun of.' Norris's response includes an example of someone who tries to make a funny remark about Nazis while in Germany, and it's not funny to Germans, then he says 'there are certain topics like slavery and black-white relations in the US that are not that funny, especially if you're a black person.'
As for Clybourne Park itself, I think the play has to mean a totally different thing in a European production (oh those americans and their political correctness)than one in the states or even one in a city with a more pronounced black/white history than SF. I'm still processing what I saw last night - definitely more blacks than I usually see in an ACT audience, but still only a few handfuls, and the line that got the biggest response of the night was when Steve (white husband building the new house in Act II) says that he's offended by his suburban neighbors who drive SUVs with yellow ribbons on them.


I also had heard that "Clybourne Park" was a big hit in Britain, and had wondered how much of it was due to voyeurism. Or a desire to see an American playwright who is very critical of his country, rather than rah-rah about it. I have heard of this happening for other playwrights -- for instance, isn't Naomi Wallace a much bigger success in England than in the States, because her plays tend to be critical of America?

And, VW, last night I wrote a blog post about the S.F. production of "Clybourne Park" and in particular the huge applause at Steve's line about the SUVs with the yellow ribbons. (http://marissabidilla.blogspot.com/2011/02/riling-up-modern-audience-part-2.html) Like you, I found it VERY interesting that that was the moment that got the biggest response.


If Marissa is right I have to find a way to get my plays to England STAT. Fucked up America is my M.O.

Jack Worthing

It has nothing to do with criticism of America - in Naomi's case it's poetic symbolism that American theatres don't know what to do with and in Norris's case it's the sense of humor.

Ian Thal

I've only seen Wallace's One Flea Spare: How does that play in Britain since it is about class structure in England? What are the taboos around class? Or for that matter: what are the taboos about race and ethnicity in Britain? From what I can see, there are some taboos in operation: they're just very different than American taboos.

Jack Worthing

Class is the biggest taboo of all in the UK. Tony Blair hilariously tried to pretend that was over but if anything he made it worse. Class is present in everything and people are always conscious of it. I'm not exaggerating this. Your accent matters very, very much. Class jealousy, hatred, shame, aspiration, fear. It's everywhere. Almost fetishised. Talking of these two plays in particular, that's the secret to their success.

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