Hit the Road Blacks
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Hit the Road Blacks
(and dont you come back no more)
The play Clybourne Park was written by Bruce Norris about some prevalent issues in the 60s and how they transmit to the modern issues established today. For example, Norris chose to demonstrate racial tensions of the mid-20th century up until the present. To belay this issue to the audience realistically, Norris created two similar but separate sets. The first design illustrated a clean, well-kept 50s style house occupied by a middle-aged, white, cis-gendered couple in a respectable neighborhood inhabited by other white people. The second design portrayed the same house set in modern times. However, the essential conflict in both acts is between a community and “outsiders” trying to enter the community. Although in Act I, its a white community showing some backlash against an African American family moving in, and in Act II, its a primarily black community antsy about a white couples intended renovations. The two sets aided Norris in creating a pragmatic atmosphere and proves that race is still a very significant factor in the lives of many people even though racism has been “abolished”.
The set design in the first act helped illustrate the racial attitudes of the 50s and 60s succeeding the war. Before the characters appear, the set already paints a picture of what kind of people live in the house. The design depicted an ordinary, typical house tenanted by a conventional family in the process of selling their home. The design itself, though superficially perfect, seemed to build upon the delusiveness of a family who is trying to fit into a neat little box of an ever-so conservative neighborhood. The realism of the design is in the layout of the house, with its retro-styled wallpaper and the polished woodwork, creating a picture of a textbook white family in the late 50s. The racial attitudes surface when select members of the neighborhood find out about the family who has purchased the house: a black family. The pragmatic atmosphere created by the set produces a feeling that the black family doesnt belong in a neighborhood that holds houses similarly designed because the value of the neighborhood would decrease. The stereotypes created by this set told the story of different types of individuals reacting to the racial advancement of an orthodox, white community.
The aspects of design facilitated the central vision of a play about individuals and communities and the stereotypes created when people self-identify. Not simply residential communities, but a much broader sense of the word; with references to all nations and nationalities and people of different countries, in addition to mental aptitude, sexuality, and race, the plays vision addresses who people are and how they address both those like them and different from them. Distilled into a single statement addressing the relationship between human condition and set,