Protests at the Barnes inspired ‘Permanent Collection’

The Barnes is a source of controversy in "Permanent Collection." Credit: Julie M. Toth
The Barnes Foundation is a source of controversy in “Permanent Collection.”
Credit: Julie M. Toth

At the end of Thomas Gibbons’ 2003 play “Permanent Collection,” inspired by racially charged conflicts at the Barnes Foundation, the prospect of relocating the Main Line museum to the city is raised. Ten years later, audiences in Philadelphia are very aware of how that particular controversy played out in real life.

“Now that it has happened, I think the play gives us a different perspective on what was gained or what was lost by the move,” Gibbons says.

A decade after InterAct Theatre Company’s premiere of the play, artistic director Seth Rozin is reviving “Permanent Collection” as part of the company’s 25th anniversary season. The piece, which won the 2004 Barrymore Award for outstanding new play, is the most successful production in the company’s history. Four of the six original cast members are returning, as are several members of the original design team.

A lot has happened in the last 10 years outside of the Barnes as well. “The dramatic situation of the play is one of the primal dramatic situations: A stranger comes to town,” Gibbons says. “In the last several years, it’s been interesting to see how that mirrors Barack Obama being elected president, which is in a sense the same kind of story. There’s not a one-to-one parallel, but there are eerie resonances.”

“Permanent Collection” was inspired by the protests of the Barnes’ Lower Merion neighbors to a proposed new parking lot at the site. The Barnes’ then-president Richard Glanton accused the neighbors of racism; they retaliated by suing him for slander.

At the time, Gibbons was working primarily with themes of race in plays set in Philadelphia, including “6221,” about the MOVE bombing, and “A House With No Walls,” about the President’s House site. He points to the controversial recent Philadelphia Magazine cover story “Being White in Philly” as proof that those concerns are still ongoing in the city.

“Philadelphia offers up these stories on a pretty regular basis,” he says. “So it’s impossible to just pretend that race is no longer an issue, which some people would like to think.”

‘Permanent Collection’
Through May 5
Adrienne Theater
2030 Sansom St.
$20-$40, 215-568-8079
www.interacttheatre.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox top Yankees, 5-1

John Lackey shines, Pineda ejected in Red Sox win

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."