The SUNY Oswego theatre department's will present "Clybourne Park," a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning play on race relations, Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 19 to 21 and 26 to 28, in Tyler Hall's Waterman Theatre. SUNY Oswego News got to look behind the curtain as the play comes together.

(On stage -- one character says "Ah, is this place just a catastrophe?"; another reponds: "No, this is--")

"Clybourne Park is a sequel to A Raisin in the Sun," explained Henry Shikongo, the play's director and a theatre faculty member. "And actually it starts where the one character Karl leaves the home of the Youngers and he heads over to the family where who wants the house and he starts to explain how there is a black family who wants to purchase this house in which is middle class America."

"When we think back, oh the 50s, we tend to pigeon hole them too," said senior theatre major Megan Twamley, who plays Bev in the first act and Kathy in the second. "Like oh, in the 50s a man was a man. In the 50s a woman did the cooking and the cleaning but at that time, that was their reality. And they found their own ways to question the gender roles so it's kind of putting reality back into those times."

Junior theatre major Trey Thomas, who plays Albert in act one and Kevin in act two, did some research into how black men like him dealt with 1950s America. "See I know my history and I know how how very conservative it was in the 50s," Thomas said. "I actually called up my grandfather and asked him, how were you in the 1950s? He was around the same age, basically the same thing. So he told me how like I said, very conservative. You're there, you're present but you hold back, you don't want to do too much 'cause you never know how they'll react to you."

"And then it moves into act two which is in 2009, the first act is in 1959," Shikongo said. "And then we see some of the relatives actually in 2009. The neighborhood now is predominately black and there's a white family who wants to move in."

"I heard about the show, and I knew a little bit about it but I was like you know I'm gonna go audition," said Carl Neff, a freshman broadcasting major who plays Karl in the first act and Steve in the second. "I'm gonna audition for both of 'em and it's gonna be fun. And I even had a comedic monologue and everything and then through the audition process I realized oh, maybe this other role would be better for me and then when I got the call back, I'm like I really need to research this show. And as soon as I started watching and reading into it and I saw Karl's character I was like wow, that would be a very interesting character to portray."

According to stage manager Cadi Hannold, a senior dual major in theatre and creative writing, the two time periods with actors playing roles in both raised some novel challenges. "Casting was interesting," she said. "And I would say I think maybe they can do this part but I'm not sure they could do that character in Act II. So it was a lot of like this person is a really good, at this specific character, but can they play the other one?"

"For myself personally for this show, I would be just ecstatic if the audience finished watching the show and they go hmm," Shikongo said. "What do I do?"

"It's not going to solve anything but it's going to start a conversation that's very important and is being ignored," Twamley noted. "And so this play puts it out there and it doesn't let you ignore it."

Curtain times are 7:30 for Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27, with 2 p.m. matinees both Saturdays, Oct. 21 and 28. Tickets for "Clybourne Park" are available for $15 at any SUNY Oswego box office, online at tickets.oswego.edu or by calling 315-312-2141.