by Rita Charleston
Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for Best Play, “Clybourne Park” centers around race, class and real estate in this Bruce Norris play running at The Stagecrafters Theatre Dec. 8, 9, 10 and 11. Directed by Catherine Pappas, the play is in response to Lorraine Hansberry’s “Raisin in the Sun,” as playwright Norris set up his play as a pair of scenes that bookend Hansberry’s pioneering drama.
In 1959 an all-white community tries unsuccessfully to head off the sale of a house to an African American family. Fifty years later in 2009, the roles are reversed when a young white couple buys the lot in what is now a predominately black neighborhood. Signaling a new wave of gentrification, a community showdown takes place with this home as the battleground.
Playing two roles in the play representing 1959 and 2009 (as do all the actors) is Sara Osi Scott, who plays Francine, the maid for the white family in ’59, and later Lena, a member of the Homeowners Association in ’09. Originally from Glendale, California, Scott lived in 10 states when she was growing up because of her mother’s career as a medical records administrator.
“With my mother’s side of the family from the south and my father’s from Nigeria, during the course of my childhood I was exposed to lots of different cultures, and I loved reacting with lots of different people,” Scott explained. “And I remember the first time I was exposed to the stage when I was in middle school back in Tucson, Arizona. We were putting on a Passion Play, and though I got to work mainly backstage, I was able to watch the older actors get into character.”
With childhood dreams of becoming an actress put aside, Scott concentrated more on the sciences and focused her attention on becoming a nurse. With her degree from Alabama’s Oakwood University in hand, she next traveled to Philadelphia to do some post-baccalaureate work at Drexel University. But when a foot injury sidelined her temporarily, she decided to use the time by taking some acting lessons at the Walnut Street Theatre.
“Well, that was about two years ago, and about six weeks into the class, I was already getting cast in shows. In fact, I did about four shows in six months, and that did it for me.”
Since then, Scott has appeared on stage at Stagecrafters, Plays & Players, Footlighters and many more local theaters. She’s also appeared in film and television and has done industrials and some voice-over work. “And I will say I love it all, especially being on the stage telling real stories in real time. I love feeling like a mirror for others and empowering them as well.”
Today, Scott is married and lives in Elkins Park. When she’s not acting, she sometimes works as a nurse on a per diem basis. “And I consider myself to be privileged and truly blessed. Not everyone gets to do everything they love doing in a single lifetime.”
Stagecrafters is located at 8130 Germantown Ave. For reservations call 215-247-9913.