Onstage the audience can see a cross-section of the first floor of a bungalow in the Clybourne Park neighborhood of Chicago. Visible is a living room, dining room, staircase and a series of doors—one that leads outside, one to the basement, and one to the kitchen. The house is well-furnished, but in chaos, with cardboard boxes piled across the stage. It is clear the white couple living in the house, Russ and Bev Stoller, is in the process of moving out. The play begins with a description of the interior of a house in Clybourne Park. It is well taken care of, indicating that the neighborhood is affluent.
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Onstage the audience can see a cross-section of the first floor of a bungalow in the Clybourne Park neighborhood of Chicago. Visible is a living room, dining room, staircase and a series of doors—one that leads outside, one to the basement, and one to the kitchen. The house is well-furnished, but in chaos, with cardboard boxes piled across the stage.
It is clear the white couple living in the house, Russ and Bev Stoller, is in the process of moving out. The play begins with a description of the interior of a house in Clybourne Park. It is well taken care of, indicating that the neighborhood is affluent. Active Themes Russ sits, reading a magazine, eating Neapolitan ice cream out of a carton. Bev comes downstairs and begins to pack a box. His strange outfit indicates that there is something wrong with his mental state.
Bev tries to give Francine a chafing dish that she never uses. Bev continues to insist Francine take the dish, and Francine continues to decline it. Eventually Bev gives up and Francine returns to the kitchen. She genuinely cannot understand why Francine would not want one of her possessions, not considering that perhaps no one needs a chafing dish, or that Francine sees the offering as a condescending gesture. Active Themes Bev continues packing boxes in the living room.
Russ thinks Neapolitan comes from Naples, Italy, but Bev disagrees. His grumbling is an indication that he feels his wife often ignores him or misunderstands him. Download it! Russ laughs at the word Muscovites people from Moscow , and Bev jokes that they might be musky. As they talk, Francine enters and exits from the kitchen with packaging, but is either not noticed or actively ignored.
This is the first moment in the play where Russ and Bev seem to be happy to be together, and the first time that they genuinely connect. Conversations and word games related to geography remain a motif throughout the play—often temporarily bringing people together in their shared love of small talk and trivia. Francine, whom Bev sometimes treats as a friend, is ignored when it is inconvenient to pay attention to her. To know we all have our place.
It is now considered a slur, but in the s it was widely used. He has remembered the capital of Mongolia, which does not impress Bev. It does remind her, however, that Russ was supposed to change the mailing address of their National Geographic subscription. Russ pretends he had forgotten, and Bev becomes angry, since she reminded him numerous times, but then he reveals he did it the previous week, and was just joking with her. Russ attempts to joke with his wife, but his humor falls flat, and she becomes angry instead.
Their relationship is rocky, as little disappointments—like Russ forgetting to cancel a subscription—can so swiftly ruin their good mood. After another silence, Bev starts to remember, out loud, a joke Russ told at the Rotary last year.
Although they do not mention it, Bev and Russ are both trying to put their lives together after the death of their son. Russ has fallen into an apathetic depression, and feels as though nothing matters. Russ attempts to make Bev laugh by bringing up their earlier conversation, but the moment has passed. Active Themes The phone rings and Francine answers. Bev still values the Clybourne Park neighborhood and the community it provides her. Although Russ no longer finds joy or solace in the community or in the Rotary Club, Bev cannot understand why his behavior has changed so radically.
Active Themes Bev takes the phone from Francine and tries to convince Karl not to come visit, explaining that the house is in disarray and Russ is feeling under the weather. Although Russ is dismissive of Karl, Bev is more polite, and humors their neighbor. Russ, meanwhile, is forced to humor Jim, the local minister whose friendship he has no real desire to keep. Active Themes Jim is friendly and good-natured, joking with Russ about the state of the house.
Bev gets off the phone and starts to chat with Jim. She is much friendlier to him than Russ had been, and Jim appreciates the attention. Bev is invested in the Clybourne Park neighborhood, even though she and Russ will soon be leaving it. She values the connections and friendships she has with members of the community.
Russ, meanwhile, has slowly cut himself off from everyone—his extended Clybourne Park community and even his wife, although he cares for her more than he cares for anyone else. Active Themes Russ asks Bev if Karl is coming over. He agrees with Russ that it is related to Naples, and he and Russ continue to joke about geography.
Russ refuses to say it, and Jim is left to stand uncomfortably as Russ and Bev bicker. Active Themes Francine, who had entered from the kitchen and waited patiently for a break in the conversation, asks Bev if she is free to go. Francine exits again, gathering her things to leave. Several times throughout the exchange, Jim repeats—to no one in particular—that he would help except that, as he said before, he recently hurt his back. Francine has come in to work as a favor to Bev, but understandably does not want to spend her weekend working.
This underscores the different way the two women see their relationship. Put more broadly, Bev the white woman sees herself as the magnanimous friend of her black staff worker, but in doing so makes unreasonable demands on that staff worker. Active Themes Bev offers Jim lunch, but he declines.
Bev exits to the kitchen to see what food is available. Bev always tries to participate in conversations and make jokes, but she often misspeaks—as she did earlier, when she referred to people from Mongolia as mongoloids. Here, the joke she makes is revealing: although she means it would be warmer in the South and the ice cream would melt, her joke also alludes to the fact that the southernmost neighborhoods of Chicago have a higher concentration of black residents.
The resulting silence then shows how uncomfortable these characters are whenever the subject touches upon race, even accidentally. Active Themes Alone again, Jim and Russ make small talk. Talking about a cold is seen as acceptable, but talking about depression is not. Jim wonders aloud if Russ is the cause of her anxiety, which Russ denies before suddenly asking Jim if Bev had asked him to come over. He dismisses the whole field of psychiatry, and argues that anyone who feels like brooding should snap themselves out of it.
Ironically, Russ has spent much of the play so far brooding, and has seemed unable to snap himself out of it. Active Themes Jim, hoping to comfort Russ, tells him his son was a hero to his country.
Jim assures Russ his son is in a better place and suggests that Russ might want to talk to someone about his emotions. Russ points out Jim is not a psychiatrist and asks him to mind his own business. Russ again dismisses the value of psychiatry.
His willingness to curse emphasizes the ways in which he is not aligned with polite society. Active Themes Related Quotes with Explanations Bev reenters from the kitchen, and notes the mood in the room has changed. Bev complains to Russ that he is being ugly and she dislikes ugliness.
Bev continues to play the role of the accommodating hostess, a role that is complicated by her hostile husband. Bev remembers him fondly, and tries to stay positive and keep the ugliness of grief out of her life. By contrast, Russ feels that Bev is clinging too tightly to comfort, while he prefers to immerse himself in his despair.
Active Themes Russ moves toward the staircase. He tells Bev and Jim they can discuss his son, Kenneth, on their own time if it comforts them. Jim interjects that he also served in the military, but Russ responds that Jim sat behind a desk like a coward. In the silence following this remark the doorbell rings. No one is able to get through to Russ. Bev feels that he is trying to make her unhappy and take away her hopes for healing and emotional comfort.
Kenneth was clearly misunderstood by the members of his community, and Russ feels that he himself is being misunderstood, too. Neither Kenneth nor Russ, however, seemed to know what they wanted, or what could make them feel better and more included. In this sense, Clybourne Park is deeply concerned with demonstrating the importance to its various characters of feeling seen and recognized by others.
Russ exits upstairs. Jim, within earshot of Albert, whispers to Bev that he should go. Although Bev tries to be a friendly and welcoming hostess, interactions with Albert are awkward. Because he is black, she is less accommodating of him than she is of her white guests, leaving him to sit by himself while she talks with Jim.
Having exhausted her resources, she turns to a friend for help. Active Themes Albert gets up to wait outside. Francine has come to work for her because she is her employee, not because Francine is doing Bev a favor.
Active Themes As Bev says goodbye to Francine she mentions the footlocker, which still needs to be taken care of. Albert offers to move it, but Francine subtly tries to tell him she wants to leave, pretending they have an appointment for which they are running late.
Francine says she can handle the bags herself, and she and Albert go to drop them in the car so she can help him move the trunk.
Although Francine cannot say it aloud, she is unhappy to be working on a Saturday, and is unhappy to be kept late into the afternoon. Her bags are not actually an issue, and are not actually the reason she cannot help with the trunk. Active Themes Once again, Bev asks Francine if she wants the chafing dish, and once again she declines. As Albert and Francine exit through the front door, they pass Karl Linder, who was about the ring the bell. Active Themes Related Quotes with Explanations Bev invites Karl inside, but he hesitates, revealing his wife is in the car.
Bev tells him to bring her in, and Karl disappears to fetch Betsy.
Clybourne Park - Scrript
Plot[ edit ] Act I: [ edit ] Grieving parents Bev and Russ are planning to sell their home in the white middle-class Chicago neighborhood of Clybourne Park. They receive a visit from their local clergyman, Jim, as well as their neighbor Karl and his deaf, pregnant wife Betsy. It becomes apparent that the black family moving in are the Youngers, the protagonists of A Raisin in the Sun , and the neighbor is Karl Lindner, the minor character from that play who attempted to bribe the Youngers into abandoning their plans to move into the neighborhood. Act II: [ edit ] Set in the same home as Act I, the same actors reappear playing different characters. In the intervening fifty years, Clybourne Park has become an all-black neighborhood, which is now gentrifying. A white couple, Steve and Lindsey played by the same actors who played Karl and Betsy in Act I , are seeking to buy, raze and rebuild the house at a larger scale, and are being forced to negotiate local housing regulations with a black couple, Kevin and Lena played by the same actors as Francine and Albert , who represent the housing board.
Clybourne Park: A Play by Bruce Norris - PDF free download eBook
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