#Classic: A Raisin in the Sun
- Playwright: Lorraine Hansberry
- Title: A Raisin in the Sun
- Opening: New York City on March 11, 1959
- List of Challenges 2018
- Monthly plan
- List of Plays and handy links
- Walter is a chauffeur who lives with his wife, son,
- sister and mother in their mother’s rattrap of a Chicago tenement apartment.
- He hopes to convince his mother to give him the $10,000
- from the life insurance payment after the premature death of his father.
- Walter Lee wants to invest that money in a liquor store.
- Lena, who has faced a lifetime of disappointments
- with an adamant religious faith
- … doesn’t want to be in the liquor-selling business.
- She has other dreams for that money:
- …buy a house in Clybourne Park
- …a fictional all white neighborhood in Chicago.
- Walter Lee Younger jr.
- — man with big dreams, full of masculine pride and need to be the famliy’s provider.
- Lena Younger
- — mother and meddlesome grandmother as a source of strength.
- — Lena’s daughter….also the voice of the playwright L. Hansberry
- as an ambitious, idealistic, intellectual college student).
- Ruth — Walter’s wife
- Travis — Walter’s son
Theme 1: pride
- There is the most obvious theme in this play
- …the importance of pride.
- A Raisin in the Sun contains one of the most moving
- monologues in all of American Theater.
- Act 3: Walter is speaking:
- “Me and my family…we are very plain people,”
- …he (father) was a laborer most of his life…
- …we come from people who had a lot of pride.
- I mean — we are a very proud people.
Theme 2: assimilation
- But I think if you notice Beneatha’ s
- …similar passionate monologue
- ….you come to the crux of the play.
- Act 2: ” Because I hate assimilationist Neroes!“
- “…it means someone who is willing to give up his own
- …culture and submerge himself compelely in the dominant
- …and in this case oppressive culture.”
- The Younger family is moving to an all-white neighborhood.
- Act 3: “We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody
- …and we will try to be good neighbors.”
- Hansberry (via Beneatha) makes it clear
- ….that she has had a good look at ‘this society‘
- …what makes you think she wants to be accepted?
- As James Baldwin said during a round table discussion
- March 1 1964 for Commentary magazine:
- “It’s not a matter of acceptance or tolerance.
- …We’ve got to sit down and rebuild this house.“
- 1959 original Broadway play
- S. Portier nominated best actor Tony Awards 1960
- 2004 revival: starring Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad
- who both won Tonys for their performances.
- 2014 Denzel Washington…considered ‘age-blind casting’.
- Washington is 59 yr and looks it…but
- because of his ‘audience drawing power’ he is
- casted as 35 yr Walter Lee Younger jr.
- Hansberry was the first black female playwright
- whose play was produced on Broadway.
- A Raisin in the Sun made theater history.
- Never had so…much truth about black people’s lives
- ….been seen on the stage.
- In Act III Hansberry mentions a character named Rufus.
- After reading Hansberry’s biography….I know that
- this refers to a man who became a
- …famous Civil Rights Activist in 1960’s.
- Who is it?
- .read the biography Looking for Lorraine
- …by Imani Perry.
- Remember…Lena Younger has bought a house in
- fictive all-white Clybourne Park
- …neighborhood with the insurance money.
- Clybourne Park (2010) is also the title of Bruce Norris’s play which
- updates and riffs on A Raisin in the Sun.
- It uses some of Lorraine Hansberry’s characters.
- Clybourne Park won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama 2011.
- This award was ironically was not bestowed on Hansberry
- who died tragically young in 1965
- …at the age of 35 after a 2 year battle with cancer.
- PS: this play is on my TBR
- …so I can compare the two playwrights!
- Hansberry weaves in so many issues
- …from abortion to African colonial struggles
- …to the African-American generational shift
- …heritage vs economical success.
- But A Raisin in the Sun never feels
- …like a heavy-handed political play.
- It is a portrait of three generations of a family.
- Last thought: #MustReadClassic
Title: – is from Langston Hughes poem:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?