The university theatre will open its season with the awardwinning play, “A Raisin In the Sun,” a production that “changed theAmerican theater forever,” according to the New York Times.
The play’s concept follows the Langston Hughes poem, “DreamDeferred,” and the life story of writer, Lorraine Hansberry. Bornin the 1930s, Hansberry, the youngest of four children was raisedin Chicago.
During this time, segregation was still legal and verywidespread throughout the country. Chicago was a prime example asareas throughout the city were divided into black and whiteneighborhoods. As a child, Hansberry’s family became one of thefirst to reside in a white neighborhood. This led to violence andthreats against the family.
As Hansberry matured, she began recording her experiences. Theplay is often described as having autobiographical elements ofHansberry’s experience.
In “A Raisin In the Sun,” Hansberry paints a picture of theYoungers, a family composed of powerful individuals who are in manyways typical in their dreams and frustrations. Crammed together inan airless apartment, the family hopes for better days. Walterdreams of riches and resents being under his mother’s thumb, whileBeneatha, the intelligent daughter, searches for her ownidentity.
The family faces a true crisis when Lena, the mother, gets herhands on the first real money they ever had; a $10,000 insurancepayment on her deceased husband’s life.
The family finally has the opportunity to buy a real home, butthe dream becomes difficult to achieve. The rage from Walter andthe hostility of the white neighbors seem to threaten the family’ssecurity and self-respect.
Beginning on Oct. 8, Dillard University Theatre Departmentstarts its 10th season. The play is celebrating its 45thanniversary exploring historic issues, such as racialdiscrimination, that African Americans had to overcome.
“This play deals with black family issues and societaloppression that are still a major concern today just as much as itwas in the 40s, 50s, and 60s,” said Angela Thomas, a junior theatremajor, who plays the role of Ruth, the wife of Walter Lee.
The first production was premiered nationally on March 11, 1959on Broadway. It was soon named the best American play of 1959 bythe New York Drama Critics Circle. Many productions of the originalBroadway run are typically received with acclaim and standingovation from sold-out audiences.
The play reveals the ideals of “life, liberty, and the pursuitof happiness” and proves that in reality those willing to work hardcan realize the American dream.
“Raisin is a beautiful time piece. It’s because the story is soreal, so pertinent in today’s clothes. The struggles they face arevery relevant and still present in today’s world in 2004,” saidPatience Reyford, a junior theatre major who plays the role of Mrs.Johnson who has been reinserted into the production.
The Dillard cast are practicing and perfecting day by day inorder to make the production a success. Andrea Frye, a veteranactor and director is the director for this play and will bedirecting all four productions for the 2004-2005 season. Frye isone of only five African American female directors who work withthe League of Resident Theatres.
Due to the hurricane evacuation, the dates for the productionwere moved back.