Clybourne Park accompanies Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun, written in 1959, that tells the story of the sale of a house in an all-white neighbourhood of Chicago to a black family. Norris sets his play in the same town and the same house; the first act is set in 1959 and the second, fifty years later. He looks at the sale in Lorraine Hansberry’s play from the viewpoint of the white neighbours and their black maid and her husband. Fifty years later we see the changes in society with all its accompanying prejudices, guilt, fury and hypocrisy.
William Troughton is in the cast of Clybourne Park, currently playing at Richmond Theatre. He recently took time out to answer a few questions about the production.
William Troughton plays Jim / Tom. His theatre credits include Photograph 51 (Noel Coward Theatre), Private Peaceful (Tobacco Factory), The Dead Dogs (The Print Room), Going Bush (Bush Theatre), Happy New (Trafalgar Studios) and The Ladykillers (West End and tour). For television, his work includes George Gently, Silk and The Crimson Field; and for film, Armistice.
What attracted you to be a part of Clybourne Park?
The writing. I read the play straight through when it was sent to me and couldn’t put it down. It is extremely funny and Bruce Norris has created beautifully crafted characters who all jump off the page. It is a thrill to share the stage wth the talented company each night.
Can you tell us about the audition process?
I met with the Director Daniel Buckroyd and casting director Marc Frankum. I prepared a piece from each act for them and had the opportunity to discuss the play during the process. Luckily for me they are both very lovely human beings and I found the experience very enjoyable. Plus they gave me the part which is always nice.
You play two characters in the play. What can you tell us about them?
The first character I play is Jim; a Minister in 1959 who has been asked by Bev to offer counsel to her husband Russ and also along with Karl (a member of the home owners association) tries convince Bev and Russ not to sell their house to a black family.
And the second character I play is Tom: a lawyer in 2009, who is working with the ‘Owners Association’ to make sure that the new white couple who are planning to demolish the house and build a new one in a now predominantly African American neighborhood respect the architectural integrity of the area.
How easy is it to switch from playing one character to another?
It’s a great gift to play two characters in the same play, especially as they are worlds apart. I wouldn’t say switching from one character to another is hard but the long days we put in the rehearsal room defining those characters was the tricky bit, but also very enjoyable.
What can you tell us about Clybourne Park?
Clybourne Park is a fiercely witty and moving black comedy about race and real estate. All set in one house in the Chicago suburbs, the plays two acts are 50 years apart. Act 1 taking place in 1959 seeing the predominantly white neighborhood with it’s community leaders frantically trying to stop a “coloured family” moving in and Act 2 set in 2009, as the now predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to hold it’s ground in the face of gentrification.
Likes and dislikes of touring?
Likes: you get to see lots of places you havn’t been before, you build up a great bond with the cast as your all away from home, performing in different theatres every week and trying the local ales
Dislikes: you miss you loved ones and your own bed
What makes Clybourne park a must-see production?
It’s won pretty much every award going, we have a fantastic cast of extremely talented people and above all it’s very funny. Come and see it!!
Written by Bruce Norris, Directed by Daniel Buckroyd, Designed by Jonathan Fensom
Clybourne Park cast (in order of appearance): Mark Womack, Rebecca Manley, Gloria Onitiri, William Troughton, Wole Sawyerr, Ben Deery, Rebecca Oldfield, Dan Gaisford.
Richmond Theatre until 30th April 2016
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