USI Theatre presents “A Raisin in the Sun”, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Lorraine Hansberry, February 14 through February 25. The play premiered in New York in 1959, making Hansberry the first African American woman playwright to be produced on Broadway. It earned the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, and Variety
named Hansberry “Most Promising Playwright” of that year.
According to Frank Rich of The New York Times
, “A Raisin in the Sun” “changed American theatre forever” by “portray[ing] a black family with a greater realism and complexity than had ever been previously seen on an American stage.” The original Broadway production featured groundbreaking performances by Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Louis Gossett, Jr. The recent Broadway revival included performances by Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Sanaa Lathan.
Hansberry took the play’s title from a poem by Langston Hughes, “Harlem,” which questioned whether “a dream deferred” withers “like a raisin in the sun.” Set on Chicago’s South Side in the 1950s, the play focuses on the Younger family’s struggle to decide what to do with a $10,000 inheritance. Each member of the family has a dream that might be realized with the money, but they can’t agree. Lena, the family matriarch, wants to purchase a home. Her son, Walter, wants to open a business. Her daughter, Beneatha, wants to attend medical school.
According to Rich, Hansberry “wrote ‘Raisin’ well before the marches on Washington, the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the inner-city explosions. Yet, with remarkable prescience, she saw history whole: Her play encompasses everything from the rise of black nationalism in the United States and Africa to the advent of black militancy to the specific dimensions of the black woman's liberation movement. And she always saw the present and future in the light of the past - clear back to the slavery of the Old South and the new slavery that followed for black workers who migrated to the industrial ghettos of the North.”
, assistant professor of theatre at USI, directs the production. The cast includes Nicole Whitney
and Mario Reid
as Ruth and Walter Younger; Marielle Scheid
as Walter’s sister, Beneatha; and Sybil Robinson
as Walter’s mother, Lena. Other cast members include Glynn Allen, Jonathan Baker, Lindsey Baxter, Eric Boyd, Matthew Harris
, and Donald Thomas.
USI Theatre faculty members Doug Hubbell
and Shan Jensen
serve as the scenic and costume designer for the production. USI theatre students Sean Nicholl
and Dustin Williams
serve as lighting and sound designer.
“A Raisin in the Sun” runs February 14-17 and February 21-25 at USI Theatre at 3001 Igleheart Avenue. Performance times are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. There is one Sunday matinee on February 25 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors 60 and over, and $4 for USI students. Tickets may be purchased by calling the USI Theatre box office at 812/422-3970 or online
. Tickets also may be purchased at the door; the box office will open one hour before each performance.