Welcome to the fifth and final 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 Charlie Heinberg and Mary May.
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?
Charlie: Other Desert Cities, directed by Peggy Metzger and starring Cassandra Hesseltine, this past November. It was a fantastic show and one of the most stellar cast and crews I’ve worked with in 20 years of theatre.
Mary: This is my first time at Redwood Curtain. I have done some shows at HSU and most recently I was touring around Humboldt County in The Good Body
What characters do you play? Please tell us about them.
Charlie: My act one character, set in 1959, is Karl. He is the main white character from A Raisin in the Sun who approaches the Younger family representing an offer from the Clybourne Park Neighborhood Improvement Association that will pay them much more than they paid for the house not to move in to the neighborhood. He’s a kind, caring person who thinks he wants what’s best for everyone and he just doesn’t see his own prejudices. Married to a very sweet deaf lady named Betsy, they are expecting a child soon. In act two, I play a guy named Steve who is married to Lindsey. Steve is cocky, prideful, smart, intelligent, funny and more readily embraces his own prejudices than Karl. Though he does believe in fairness and justice, like Karl, he enjoys walking the line of right and wrong and exploring why people see the world and other people in certain ways.
Mary: I play Betsy and Lindsey, who are both pregnant in the show. Betsy is really interesting for me because she’s deaf, but she doesn’t sign. She speaks. She was interesting to me because my sister’s deaf. I feel really honored and lucky to be able to take this on. I admire [playwright] Bruce Norris for putting her in there because you get to see the dynamic that happens when people have a conversation around her and the level she’s able to participate. Lindsey, in act two, she reminds me a lot of people that I’ve met who can’t help but be focused on themselves but also mean well.
What attracted you do doing his show?
Charlie: The script is touching and funny, but also powerful and disturbing at the same time. I love a good paradox myself, and the script is full of them. This play asks us some really interesting questions about humanity, culture, civilization and why we think the way we do. There is a dialogue that illuminates the concept of race and how we as a society use the concept to strengthen and empower or break down and hurt. It’s an important conversation that I think is vital for humanity to be having.
Mary: I was really excited to work with Redwood Curtain. I’ve been watching shows here since I moved up four years ago. I was totally honored to be able to work at the theatre. And the show’s great. It deals with a lot of stuff in the U.S. that’s going on right now with race. It reminds people that as a country we’re still struggling with racial divides.
What do you hope audiences come away with as the leave the theatre?
Charlie: Ultimately, I hope they walk away exploring that dialogue and talking about things that may feel uncomfortable at first. It would be really cool if people can get all of that from it and also see through the layers to laugh at the irony, cry in the joy.
Mary: A lot of questions and ready to have a lot of conversations. The show is a lot of dialogue, and hopefully they leave with something to say and questions to ask of each other.