Hi Woolly blog readers! We’ve been on hiatus for a bit as we closed our show Bootycandy, which I hope you followed along here on the blog as we explored the issues of sexuality, race, and of course, dirty words.
We’re now gearing up for our summer remount production of Clybourne Park, the 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner and 2011 Helen Hayes Award winner for Outstanding Resident Play and Outstanding Director. If you missed it the first time around, you’ll definitely want to make sure you catch it this time. In addition to the international and national awards recognition Clybourne Park has received, the play really resonated with DC audiences the first time around, which prompted the decision to produce a summer remount. If you’re not familiar with the show, here’s a brief synopsis:
In the 1950′s, a white community in Chicago splinters over the black family about to move into their neighborhood. Fast forward to present day: as we climb through the looking glass of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun, the same house now represents very different demographics. Neighbors pitch a horrifying yet hilarious battle over territory and legacy that reveals how far our ideas about race and gentrification have evolved—or have they?
While Clybourne Park is an actual neighborhood in Chicago, the play makes no direct reference to its geography, and Woolly believes Clybourne Park is highly reflective of the changes happening to neighborhoods throughout the DC metropolitan area. Learning about the history of many of the neighborhoods in DC and the changes they’re going through is fascinating, such as the transformation on U Street from “Black Broadway” to a ghost-town and drug-ridden area in the post 1968 riots, to a premier residential and nightlife neighborhood today. But of course in every neighborhood’s success story there is another side: what about those residents who are being priced out and can no longer afford to live in their neighborhood? Will these improvements really affect them? I wanted to give a quick news roundup of some of the major developments in the issues of race and gentrification since last year, and introduce some of these topics that we’ll be exploring here on the blog for the duration of the show:
In the housing area: while home prices reached a new low this year nationally, DC actually faced a 4.3% growth rate in home prices since last year. DC’s economy and unemployment rate in general fared better than the national average as well, partially due to the federal government expanding while the rest of the economy shrank. Home prices aren’t the only thing that grew, as DCentric reports that DC ranks #3 on a list of cities with rents rising most rapidly. Lydia DePillis of the Washington City Paper gives a nice roundup here of the housing markets in neighborhoods across DC, and why consumers may choose one neighborhood over another.
In the area of race, a big story that hit this year was that the number of African Americans living in DC declined by 11% during the past decade. The Washington Post reports that for the first time in 50 years, blacks may not be the majority population in DC any longer.
Another big local story occurred during last year’s Mayoral race between Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray. The Washington Post reported that despite the many improvements that Fenty brought to the city, such as school reform and crime reduction, many black voters thought that he mishandled the issue of gentrification, and saw him as a politician who favored white citizens over blacks.
These are just some of the issues we’ll be exploring here on our blog, and during our post-show events. We’ve programmed an unprecedented schedule of special guests including journalists, city leaders, artists, professors, and local business owners to spark post-show discussions with audience members. There will be a post-show activity scheduled for every performance during the run of Clybourne Park from July 21 – August 14, 2011. All post-show events are free, and attendance at the performance prior to a post-show activity is not required. Click here for the complete schedule and more information.
We look forward to seeing you at the show, and hope you’ll follow along here on the blog as well. We’re introducing a new blog format for this show: instead of just two blog posts a week, starting July 20th you’ll get THREE! On Tuesdays we’ll be exploring some of these topics mentioned above, and on Fridays we’ll be featuring some of our post-show guests who will participate at a panel in the upcoming weekend. On Wednesdays we’ll be spotlighting a neighborhood from each quadrant in DC, including history, facts, and fun photos from then and today!
~ Brooke Miller, Press and Digital Content Manager