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Seattle Repertory Theatre

Speak Up! Urban Development in Belltown

May 9th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

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Our current production of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning, Tony-nominated Clybourne Park explores issues of race, gentrification, and real estate. And while the play itself may be set in a fictional Chicago neighborhood, we recognize these issues’ relevance to Seattle’s own growth and development.

In an effort to start a conversation about these topics at home, we put together the Speak Up! series, which offers community members the chance to discuss the themes of the play as they relate to Seattle. Each discussion is held after Saturday matinee performances of Clybourne Park at Seattle Rep and features a panel of civic leaders, local academics, and community residents.

One of our Speak Up! panelists, Elizabeth Campbell, President of the Belltown Community Council, volunteered to participate in all three Speak Up! discussions, and was gracious enough to share more of her thoughts on the impact of urban development in Belltown on our blog.

Read on to learn more.

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Seattle Repertory Theatre

Join us for Clybourne Park’s Speak Up!

April 25th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre


Join us for Speak Up! Community discussions that give you the chance to speak your mind.

Seattle Rep invites audiences to participate in lively post-play discussions with civic leaders, local academics, and community residents, as part of the new Speak Up! series. The conversation will begin after each Saturday matinee of Clybourne Park: April 28, May 5, and May 12 at 2:00 p.m.

Why are we holding Speak Up!?

Key themes of gentrification and race relations in Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park, currently running at Seattle Rep, resonate with Seattle’s history. While the play itself my be a satirical spin-off of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun that takes a jab at race and real estate in a fictional Chicago neighborhood, the story relates to a wider audience. 

As playwright Bruce Norris explains, “This story is not necessarily an American story; it’s actually a story about cities. It is a story that we associate with the 1950s and today—the story of gentrification. It’s a universal story that isn’t about American black/white history. It’s about territory, and disputes over territory because of ethnicity or differences.”

To whet your appetite, we asked a few of our panelists to weigh in on Speak Up! and why our community should talk about race and gentrification issues we’re witnessing on a local and/or national scale. 

The Panelists Say….

“I agreed to participate in Speak Up! because I want to communicate effectively for Belltown as a community/neighborhood. Also because living in Belltown informs a deep understanding of the unintended consequences of “gentrification”/urban residential development: by encouraging public engagement, I hope to gently promote the concept of intentional community.”

-Elizabeth Campbell, Belltown Community Council

“Community is not only where we live and work but who we are and where we belong. Community is about the relationships we develop and sustain with each other and how we treat each other.

-Mike Chin, Seattle Office for Civil Rights

“Conversations about race are ubiquitous in American society. Even when we’re not talking about race we’re talking about it. Talking about race can be easy or difficult dependent on the context. The two biggest impediments to having meaningful conversations about race are fear and ignorance. White Americans have been trained not to discuss race, because to discuss race is to be racist. As a result, negative emotional experiences emerge when engaging in this conversation. Ignorance comes into play when we think all conversations about race are equal. Talking about race is like talking about sex. You can have discussions in bars, locker rooms, a doctor’s office or a classroom. However, each conversation is different based on knowledge and expertise. Our egalitarian approach to these discussions often leads to frustration and conversation. We have to teach our children to talk about race.

-Dr. Max Hunter, John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development

Don’t miss out on the conversation!

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Seattle’s Ch-ch-changes Competition

April 12th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Look around you. This is your home, your street, your neighborhood, your community. Now blink. It’s 50 years later and everything looks a bit different.

Whether we like it or not, change happens. Clybourne Park (which runs Apr. 20-May 13) is a play that tackles that very concept. The play begins in 1959 as a black family moves into a white enclave. Act Two takes us back to the same house in 2009 as gentrification sets in and the roles are reversed. Quite a big transition for that neighborhood, indeed.

But we’re interested in looking at our own front yard. What changes do you think have greatly impacted our Seattle community over the past 50 years? And how do you feel about it?

Maybe you have a strong opinion about Southlake Union’s transformation from “single-story storefronts and cheap apartments to a vertical urban village of cubicle farms and lofty condos.” Or maybe you want to talk about the impact of the Space Needle, undoubtedly the international icon of Seattle. What do you think our iconic image would have been without it?  You could even get creative and highlight an example of our unwillingness to allow change (remember Edith Macefield?)

Whatever story inspires you, tell us about it.  You could write us a comment, post a picture, link to an article, make a video, etc. Show us through your eyes how you see Seattle evolving around you and tell us what you think about it.

Entries can be posted on our blog, Facebook, or Twitter. The best entry will be selected on April 24th and the winner will receive 4 tickets to see Clybourne Park and a drink on us. So put on your thinking cap and tell us about Seattle and its ch-ch-changes.

Seattle Repertory Theatre

What did you think of Clybourne Park?

April 10th, 2012 by Seattle Repertory Theatre

Our final show of the season, Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park, begins next week with preview performances starting April 20 and opening night on April 25. We’d like to give you a place to share your thoughts about the show.

So what’d you think of this razor-sharp new satire? Did you resonate with some of the viewpoints expressed in the play about issues of racism, real estate, gentrification, and being (or not being) politically correct? Leave a comment on this post and let us know how you feel.

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