As part of the human experience, we all have them. Big, small, scary, unattainable, tangible. Of the past, present and future. Borrowing her title from Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry’s production at the Arden Theater captures Hughes’s Harlem in a way no other production has. In the words of Langston Hughes, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like A RAISIN IN THE SUN?
Travel back in time to 1959 to Chicago’s South Side when an African American family considers buying a house in the all white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. All due to a symbol and promise of change. An insurance check with the potential to build, destroy, and ultimately transform a family.
Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Walter Dallas, former Artistic Director of Freedom Theater, PA’s first African American theater, is a not to be missed production that parents and pre-teens/teens can enjoy and explore together. All magically woven into this one play, are themes of family, identity, culture, racism, conflict resolution, history and change. Themes that will have you, at the least, reassessing where you have been, where you want to go and how to get there. You can even tie in the value of money and the role it plays in life choices and outcomes.
As the first African-American female playright to make it to Broadway, Hansberry’s story helped redefine American theater. Her experience of life in Chicago in 1959 is retold here in Philadelphia with an amazing cast with dreams, set-backs, and triumphs. Real characters that speak to the core of who we are, our desires, defeats, perseverance and change.
Question, resist, and adapt with Joilet F. Harris as Lena Younger, the mama and great oak that holds the family together. Journey with Jalessa Capri as Beneatha Younger, on the path of self-discovery, high aspirations and boundary-breaking self-assurance. U.R. as Walter Lee is bruised by world, but digs deep as a man of honor and faith. He is joined bu his wife Nikki Walker as Ruth, whose broken heart is temporary and spirit is strong enough to withstand the unwavering unpredictability of life. Last, but not least, check out Yannick Haynes, a Philadelphian 5th grader and Arden Drama Student in his first debut as Travis Younger (son of Walter and Ruth).
“Fester”, “run”, “stink”, “crust”, “sag”, “explode” are all words Hughes used to describe a dream deferred. The play embodies them all, and more. A Raisin in the Sun also offers us the aftermath, the explosion that creates a new beginning. It’s a story that transcends time and can awaken young people to The American Dream from so many viewpoints. Consider reading the play together as a family, and get to the Arden before the 21st of April and tell us about it.