I have noted before that the Phoenix Theater is an Indianapolis gem. Yesterday, attending its most recent offering, I was once again reminded why.
Clybourne Park is a two-act play about a house, a neighborhood, and race. The first act takes place not long after the Korean War; the second, set in the same living room of the same house, is fifty years later. The basic story line is the familiar trajectory of white flight, neighborhood decay and later regentrification, told by way of a very personal human tragedy. It is well worth seeing.
It was easy to watch the first act–in which we learn the family has sold the house to a black family–from a position of moral superiority. Those neighbors are embarrassing racists! Glad we’ve gotten beyond that! It was a bit harder to watch the second act, in which the yuppie couple purchasing the now-trashed home are meeting with representatives of the neighborhood group to discuss their plans to demolish the house and build anew. The surface racial amity and self-congratulatory color-blindedness mask attitudes that are not as “evolved” as their owners evidently believe.
As my husband said at one point, “I’ve been in that meeting!”
We all have.