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

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Movies

Review: 'Fading Gigolo' finds few jokes in women…

John Turturro writes, directs and stars in "Fading Gigolo," in which he plays a prostitute whose pimp is Woody Allen. And there's still very few jokes.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.