Editor’s note: Hey everybody, thanks for all of your support. We’re back to scheduled programming here at U Street Girl, trying to move on. Hello to all new readers, welcome.
Woolly Mammoth‘s current production, Clybourne Park, deals with gentrification in a Chicago neighborhood. When they graciously invited me to come see the show and share my thoughts on the issues the play raises, I was more than happy to.
Clybourne Park (written by Bruce Norris) brought up those seemingly age old questions that come along with gentrification. Is a neighborhood better after gentrification? Before? Who can come in and change things? What does race have to do with it (or what doesn’t it have to do with it)? The play showed how difficult having frank conversations about race in this age are, with everyone careful not to offend anyone, yet often coming to the table with preconceived notions and stereotypes.
Thinking about U street and gentrification, I first think about the history. U street was Black Broadway, it was where Dizzie Gillespie and Billie Holiday came to play. It’s where Duke Ellington grew up. It’s where Langston Hughes spent some of his formative years. This is a neighborhood rich with black history.
In the decades since the riots, where U street has seen gentrification – no one can claim that at least all the huge condo and apartment buildings aren’t a part of gentrification – it has tried to celebrate the past. What are the names of these condo buildings? Why, they’re the Ellington and the Langston. Is gentrification better if we celebrate the past?
Is the neighborhood better?
For more of my thoughts continue reading below the jump.
Readers of U Street Girl can see any performance of Clybourne Park for only $15. Use this numeric code 789 when arranging tickets. Reservations can be made online (woollymammoth.net), over the phone (202-393-3939), or in person (641 D Street NW, Washington, DC). Clybourne Park runs March 15 – April 11, 2010. Performances are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm.