Hyde Park Community Players present “Clybourne Park”

The Hyde Park Community Players (clockwise), James Allen, Jr. (seated), Renata McAdams (standing, red shirt), Eric Roberts (standing, gray shirt), Daniel Heinz (standing, taupe t-shirt), Corinna Christman (standing, floral dress), Paul Upshaw (standing, black t-shirt), Mike Herring (standing, white shirt), Amelia Snoblin (seated, purple shirt), Paul Baker (seated, blue shirt), and Shonte Wesson (lying on floor, gray shirt). – Photo courtesy of the Hyde Park Community Players

Contributing Writer

The Hyde Park Community Players’ production of “Clybourne Park” kicks off this week at University Church, 5655 S. University Ave.

According to the show’s director Vanessa Ellis, “Clybourne Park” is about a neighborhood that undergoes gentrification.

“This play takes you through a neighborhood transformation and a family seeking to change their lives much like the play ‘[A] Raisin in the Sun,’” Ellis said.

The 1959 play “A Raisin in the Sun,” written by Lorraine Hansberry, is about a black family’s experience in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side as they attempted to improve their lives using an insurance settlement it received following the death of the father.

Ellis said seeing this play would be a good Mother’s Day present but she would not recommend parents bring small children.

“It has a lot of strong language and parents may find it inappropriate for children,” added Ellis. “Despite some strong language the play is funny and leaves you with a heartfelt feeling.”

Ellis said she has been a part of the Hyde Park Community Players, a group founded by Paul Baker in 2008, since 2010.

“This will be [the] sixth play I directed,” said Ellis, who is also an attorney with the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. “One thing I’d like to do more in the future is some writing.”

Each year the group of volunteer performers put on a few plays with the next theater performance set for the summer, according to Ellis.

“We do this for the love of the community,” she said.

The two-hour play kicks off at 8 p.m. on May 12, at University Church, 5655 S. University Ave., and a reception with the cast will follow. It also runs at 8 p.m. on May 13, and 2 p.m. May 14 (Mother’s Day), followed by a discussion about the play with cast members. The remaining three dates are 8 p.m. May 19 and 20, and a final showing at 2 p.m. on May 21. Tickets are $15 at the door, $12 online at hydeparkcommunityplayers.org, and $10 for seniors and students with ID.