Next month, join the Academy in bringing Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun to our stage. This landmark drama was one of the first stories on Broadway to examine African-American life on the cusp of the civil rights era. For a more immersive experience, performances will be conducted in the round, rather than the traditional proscenium style.
“I think it has a lot of importance, especially with everything that has been going on lately in the media and the news around our nation right now. There are a lot of black men who are crying out and saying ‘hey I want to be heard.’ I think this story, even though it’s set back in the 1950s, here it is 2017 and it still resonates.” -Walter Heilig, who plays Walter Lee Younger
A Raisin in the Sun debuted on Broadway in 1959. With a mainly African-American cast, A Raisin in the Sun was considered a risky investment, and it took over a year for producer Philip Rose to raise enough money to launch it. It was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, as well as the first with a black director. In 1960, it was nominated for four Tony Awards. Since then, three motion pictures of the story have been produced, as well as two radio dramas. The show has also been performed countless times across the country and around the world.
This lauded drama follows the Youngers, an African-American family living together in an apartment in Chicago during the 1950s. Following the death of their patriarch, they discuss plans to spend a pending insurance payment. The characters disagree about how to use the influx of funds. Walter Lee wants to make a business investment. However, his mother, Lena desires to purchase a house for them all to live in.Meanwhile, Beneatha, Walter’s sister, wants to use the money for her medical school tuition. She also wishes that her family members were not so interested in joining the white world. Beneatha instead tries to find her identity by looking back to the past and to Africa. Their differences illustrate two differing views of the American Dream.
The Sunday performance of A Raisin in the Sun will be followed by a FREE staged reading and discussion of the award-winning drama Clybourne Park. This drama portrays events both before and after those in Hansberry’s play. Clybourne Park was published in 2010, and is loosely based on historical events that took place in the city of Chicago. The play begins in 1959 as a black family moves into a white enclave. Act two returns to the same house in 2009. This time, the roles are reversed when a young white couple buys the lot in what is now a predominantly black neighborhood, signaling a new wave of gentrification. Please note that the play contains strong adult language and may not be suitable for everyone.
Showtimes and Other Information
Performances of A Raisin in the Sun are as follows:
- Thursday, May 18th at 7:30pm
- Friday, May 19th at 7:30pm
- Saturday, May 20th at 7:30pm
- Sunday, May 21st at 2:00pm
The staged reading of Clybourne Park will be on Sunday, May 21 at 7:30pm. All performances will take place in the Academy’s Warehouse Theater. This can be accessed in from the entrance found between 5th and 6th and Commerce Street. Patrons are encouraged to park in the Pacific Life lot, which is located next door to the theater. Parking in this lot is free. There will be directional signage pointing the way on show days. Look for the large yellow mural depicting a woman and a keyboard.
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