"Clybourne Park" Q&A with James Read and Pam Long
Welcome to the second?installment of our Q&A featuring the cast and crew of Redwood Curtain’s production of Clybourne Park, written by Bruce Norris and directed by James Floss. This week we feature James Read and Pam Long.
Clybourne Park?by Bruce Norris
April 30 to May 23
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm. Sunday matinee on May 17?at 2pm.
Directed by James Floss
Clybourne Park explodes in two outrageous acts set fifty years apart. Act One takes place in 1959, as nervous community leaders anxiously try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act Two is set in the same house in the present day, as the now predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to hold its ground in the face of gentrification. This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning comedy is savagely funny and insightful.
“Vital, sharp-witted and ferociously smart.” –?NY Times
When were you last on the Redwood Curtain stage?
Pam: This is my first performance with the company. Having spent the last fifteen years living in Sonoma County, I’ve been absent from the Humboldt County theatre scene for a number of years. However, from 1982 to 1998, I participated in numerous productions on various stages. A handful of memorable roles include Gloria in Grace and Glory (Ferndale Rep), Florence in The Odd Couple (the Female Version) at NCRT and Rita in Prelude to a Kiss at the former Pacific Art Center Theatre (PACT).
James: On stage I was in Humble Boy in 2010. That year I also directed Moonlight and Magnolias, with [Clybourne Park director] James Floss as David O. Selznick.
What characters do you play? Tell us about them.
Pam: I have two roles in the show. Act one takes place in 1959 and I play the role of Bev Stoller. She’s 47, middle-class, white mid-westerner living with her husband of 26 years, Russ. In act two, fast forward fifty years to 2009, and I play Kathy, a lawyer who is the daughter of one of the couples from act one. Sounds confusing, and it is! But it will be our job to tell the story clearly with a script that moves at a lightening-fast pace.
James: I play Russ, who is married to Bev, in the first act. Russ works in a construction firm. He can’t do physical stuff because of a bad ankle. He’s mostly a low key guy with a very interesting sense of humor. Dan, in the second act, is working to fix up the house because it’s being sold. Dan calls himself a bull in a china shop.
What attracted you do doing his show?
Pam:I prefer contemporary, ensemble work so that was one attraction. Another bonus is working with a company that has high standards and produces engaging, important theatre. Also, having the chance to work with a long-time theatre colleagues, James Floss and James Read is something I look forward to. Last but not least is having the challenge of crawling into two totally different characters that at the same time connect the dots and support, full-circle, the story, the message and the reality of old school and modern day social, racial and ethnic conversations and conflicts.
James: I hadn’t read the script when I accepted the show. I’m doing the show because of Charlie [Heinberg] and Pam [Long]. I accepted this without reading the script, which is something I’ve never done before. When James and I talked, he explained some things to me and I agreed. The show gives you plenty of room to be creative because it’s an ensemble.
What do you hope audiences come away with as the leave the theatre?
Pam:If an audience member spends a moment to reflect on their own ethnic journey, or their ancestors’ ethnic or racial struggles, or a friend’s or colleague’s journey, and considers how much we are dependent on each others’ tolerance and acceptance to sustain our country, communities and neighborhoods, then I think we will have successfully told the story of Clybourne Park.
James: I hope they come away with a variety of emotions and that they’ve realized something. We’re all playing different parts between the two acts, but the characters all relate to each other. It’s really interesting to see how it’s done.