Season Selects: A Raisin in the Sun

Posted April 13, 2022

Season Select Raisin Web

Choosing which plays to see in a season is always a tough decision. But we're here to help! Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun is this week's selection. You may know the story, but read on for more about why you should absolutely see it at APT.

A Raisin in the Sun

By Lorraine Hansberry

Directed by Tasia A. Jones

Fast Facts:

Playing: Hill Theatre | August 5 - October 7
Featuring: Gina Daniels, Alys Dickerson, Tim Gittings, Charence Higgins, Rasell Holt, Chiké Johnson and Gavin Lawrence.
Genre: American Classic / Period Drama
Go If You Liked: Death of a Salesman (2016), A View From the Bridge (2017), August Wilson’s Fences (2019)
Last at APT: First time!

About the Play

Lorraine Hansberry’s poetic rendering of a family, with all the petals and thorns intact. Three generations of love and tension simmer in a South Side walk-up, sheltering five souls whose long‑postponed dreams may just have waited long enough. Their story an encapsulation of what it means to be oppressed, before birth and beyond death; constantly pushing against the world, and each other. And through it all, knowing there’s always something to hope for. Always something to love. An exquisite work of art, as compelling today as when it first emerged on stage.

A Raisin in the Sun is a remarkable play. It is, first and foremost, a great play – poetic and funny; riveting and meticulously structured. Inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem,” which begins “What happens to a dream deferred?” A Raisin in the Sun addresses that question head-on via three generations of the Younger family, and their tenuous hope for a better future. In its review of the play’s Broadway debut, which featured Sidney Poitier as Walter Lee Younger, and Ruby Dee as Ruth Younger, The New York Times said the play has “…vigor as well as veracity and is likely to destroy the complacency of any one who sees it.”

A Raisin in the Sun was also a groundbreaking play. On March 11, 1959, playwright Lorraine Hansberry became the first Black woman ever to have her play performed on Broadway. It won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, - beating heavyweights of the industry like Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams – marking the first time a Black playwright had ever won the coveted award. Lauded as a play with universal themes, A Raisin in the Sun is a vivid and specific portrait of a Black family living on Chicago’s South Side in the 1950s. Hansberry herself said, “…one of the most sound ideas in dramatic writing is that, in order to create the universal, you must pay very great attention to the specific.” Hansberry was 29 years old when she received that Critics Circle Award. She died just five years later of pancreatic cancer. She was an activist, feminist, artist and genius. Learn more about her on the page, or on a screen near you.

Artistic Director Brenda DeVita says:

Lorraine Hansberry was a beautifully gifted writer, who died far too young. One of those writers that you think about, what if she’d been around for another 50 years? What masterpieces would she have created that are lost to us now? Because A Raisin in the Sun – it is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s this perfect encapsulation of what hope looks like when it’s been oppressed for generations. Because this family, the Youngers, they’ve been dreaming this dream for so long, and fighting for everything they have. And now there’s this little ray of hope that they may actually get what they want. But everyone has a different idea of what the path to that better life is, and what the dream actually looks like. And each of their perspectives is powerful and right, even when it’s at odds with other members of the family. Gavin Lawrence is playing Walter Lee Younger, and he’s going to be fantastic in that role. And I’m so thrilled that Gina Daniels will be back this season to play his wife, Ruth. And we have this amazing director, Tasia A. Jones, who will be working at APT for the first time. It’s an incredible team of actors and artists, and I can’t wait for you all to see it.