The idea for About Clarence and Me was born during Walter Jones’ and Scott Hiltzik’s chance meeting on a bus. Sitting next to each other on the five-hour ride from New York City to Boston in July, 2003, the two writers recognized their shared interests. As New England scenery passed by, Coltrane, classical piano music and theater were discussed, ideas were thrown back and forth, personal stories shared, and by the time the Greyhound arrived at South Station the story was set and their collaboration underway.
Drawing inspiration from Scott’s experiences as a piano teacher and Walter’s childhood in the South, About Clarence and Me portrays the relationship between an older African-American beginning piano student and his younger Caucasian piano teacher. Through a poignant story and a rich assortment of original piano music, About Clarence and Me expresses the commonality of the human experience.
Even as the world becomes more globalized, there will always be generational boundaries that set young apart from old. “About Clarence and Me,” a new play written by Walter Jones and Scott Hiltzik, explores this divide (and others) through an unlikely relationship between a retired African-American man, Clarence, and his young white piano tutor, Sam. From rocky beginnings, Clarence and Sam soon form a mutual bond that challenges the traditional ideas of the mentor-student relationship. Intersectional themes of race and love come to life as their business arrangement blossoms into a lifelong friendship, with both Clarence and Sam learning from one another in ways they could never have foreseen.
About Clarence and Me had a critically acclaimed premiere at The Theater for The New City’s Dream Up Festival in September 2016. Below are some REVIEWS:
“a touching tribute to the power of both art and friendship across generations and cultural boundaries.”
“with a sensitive script by director Walter Jones and composer Scott Hiltzik, whose own piano compositions stand in for Sam’s, the actors stay true to the melody.”
“Whether it’s L.A. in the ’90s or Baltimore, Cleveland, or New York City in 2016, it sure is still going on. Fortunately, we have stories like About Clarence & Me to remind us, through the lens of art, of the universality of the human experience and the power of friendship and love.”
…”About Clarence and Me” is an impressive and creative outing from Hiltzik and Jones that should certainly make its way back to New York City following the conclusion of the Dream Up Festival.
“About Clarence & Me is a feast for piano music lovers.”