On Friday, October 25th at 9:00pm, producers James Arntz and John Paulson, in collaboration with Maryland Public Television, present A Raisin in the Sun Revisited: The Raisin Cycle. Filmed at Baltimore's Center Stage, the one hour documentary explores the history and legacy of Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking 1959 drama through the staging of two contemporary plays it inspired: Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park and Beneatha’s Place by Kwame Kwei-Armah, Center Stage Artistic Director.
This past spring, Center Stage mounted both plays in repertory as The Raisin Cycle. Filmmakers captured the drama and cultural significance of simultaneously running these two issue-driven plays. With two opening nights looming, rehearsals, meetings, and costume fittings are paired with footage of Center Stage’s performances, the 1961 film, and insights from theater historians.
Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking 1959 drama, A Raisin in the Sun, was the first Broadway play to depict the strength and humanity of an African-American family as it strives for a piece of the American dream by buying a house in a white working-class neighborhood in Chicago. More than 50 years later, playwright Bruce Norris created Clybourne Park, a sardonic Pulitzer Prize-winning prequel and sequel that takes place in the same Chicago house and revisits the questions of race, real estate and gentrification in America.
Inspired by Hansberry's original and Norris' follow-up, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of Baltimore's Center Stage, penned a third play, Beneatha's Place, which follows two of the Raisin characters to Nigeria and its post-colonial struggles. Center Stage mounted Clybourne Park and Beneatha's Place as "The Raisin Cycle" and as part of its 50th anniversary season.
Please enjoy these wonderful production photos by Richard Anderson. Click here for more information about both productions, including photo credits.
Opening Night of Beneatha's Place (Center Stage)
"How thrilling it is to partner with PBS on this project," said Kwame Kwei-Armah. "When I first came to Centerstage, one of my goals was to expand the role of this theatre in civic discussions, not just locally but nationally. 'A Raisin in the Sun Revisited' is the perfect opportunity to both explore the social impact of great art and to contribute to the ongoing dialogue around race and class in our nation."
“A Raisin in the Sun is a powerful story of perseverance that arts followers have come to know and love, and we think our viewers will be just as interested in learning more about the Clybourne Park and Beneatha’s Place storylines,” said PBS Vice President of Programming Donald Thoms. “PBS is committed to giving millions of viewers a front-row seat and a backstage pass to the best music, theater, dance, art, and cultural history programs on-air and online, and we’re excited that CENTERSTAGE will provide us with great content to feature this fall.”
A Raisin in the Sun Revisited: The Raisin Cycle was filmed as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival, a "multi-platform event anchored by seven films that highlight artists and performances from around the country, and related online content that together invite every American into the worlds of music, theatre, opera and cultural history."
If you're in the area, Center Stage will be hosting a viewing party in honor of the PBS premiere. Starting at 8:00pm, enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks in the lobby. Then, at 9 pm watch A Raisin in the Sun Revisited—along with thousands of viewers nationwide. Click here to learn more.
Tomorrow, October 12th at 3:00pm, Hampton University Museum will present a student reading of my play, THE HAMPTON YEARS, as part of their Homecoming Festivities and in conjunction with the opening of The Diane Whitfield-Locke & Carnell Locke Collection: Building on Tradition. RSVP for both today by calling 757.727.5308.
This will be my first time at Hampton University and I can hardly wait. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and share them here..
Hampton University Museum events for Saturday, October 12, 2013
3:00pm -THE HAMPTON YEARS: A READING written by Jacqueline E. Lawton, directed by Artisia Green at Little Theater, Armstrong Hall). Come hear the reading by HU students and meet the playwright!
About the Play
The Hampton Years explores the relationship between art professor Viktor Lowenfeld and his students, John Biggers and Samella Lewis. Lowenfeld joined the Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1939 as assistant professor of Industrial Arts and studio art teacher. He was later appointed as Chairman of the Art Department and in 1945, he was named curator of the distinguished collection of Black African Art at the Hampton Institute. Burgeoning artist John Biggers, who went on to become an internationally acclaimed painter, sculptor, teacher and philosopher, was his student. As was Samella Lewis, artist, printmaker and educator, with whom Lowenfeld had a contentious, but respectful relationship. The Hampton Years examines the impact of World War II on Jewish refugees living in the United States and their role in shaping the lives and careers of African American students in the segregated south.
Then, be sure to stop by the Hampton University Museum for the opening reception of the exhibit. More details below:
6:30pm - Opening Reception and Music by the Jason Jenkins Trio
7:30pm - Comments & Special Presentations
8:30pm - Opening Receptions Ends
The Diane Whitfield-Locke & Carnell Locke Collection: Building on Tradition
The exhibition will include master artists from both the 19th Century including Henry O. Tanner, Robert Duncanson, and Grafton Tyler Brown; from the Harlem Renaissance period with pieces from Aaron Douglass, a rare work by William H. Johnson, as well as works by Palmer Hayden, Jacob Lawrence; and from the modern tradition like Benny Andrews, Gwen Knight and Faith Ringgold. Additionally, the exhibition will also reflect the Locke's move towards collecting contemporary artists such as Clarissa Sligh, Betye Saar and James Phillips and feature twenty sculptures including works by Richard Hunt, Augusta Savage, Beulah Woodward, Richmond Barthe, and art historian and artist, Dr. David Driskell have been selected.
Co-curator, Woodson Reid states, "The Dianne Whitfield-Locke and Carnell Locke collection of African American art can be seen as a product of these groundbreaking years of research and inventiveness," begun by the many art historians and institutions that have focused on collecting African American art.
Vanessa Thaxton-Ward is the curator of collections at the Hampton University Museum and Shirley Woodson- Reid is a noted artist, educator and curator. Woodson-Reid resides in Michigan.
Click here to learn more.
The Westboro Baptist Church has announced their plan to picket in front of Ford's Theatre today Friday, October 11th because of the theatre's performances of the "The Laramie Project." Ford's Theatre is inviting the entire DC community to come out for a Peaceful Counter-Protest from 6:30-7:30 p.m in front of the theatre (511 10th St. NW).
"The Laramie Project" tells the story of the brutal attack and death of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998 because he was gay. In October 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and on October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law.
Following the protest, Ford's will hold a special 7:30 p.m. performance of “The Laramie Project” at First Congregational Church and all proceeds will be donated to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. After the performance, join us for a public candlelight vigil at 10:15 p.m. Details and schedule for Friday are below. We hope you can be there for all or part of the night!
Friday, October 116:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Counter Protest in front of Ford’s Theatre (511 10th St. NW)
The Westboro folks are scheduled to protest outside of Ford’s Theatre from 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. We would like to have a peaceful counter protest from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Our counter protest will consist of holding Erase Hate signs and an Erase Hate banner. We will not engage with the protesters verbally or physically. To participate in the counter protest, please email email@example.com by 5 p.m. Thursday, October 10.
7:30 p.m.: The Laramie Project at First Congregational United Church of Christ (945 G St. NW)
Matthew Shepard died on October 12, 1998. Fifteen years later, we honor his legacy with a fundraiser for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Ford’s Theatre will donate all proceeds from the October 11 performance of The Laramie Project to the Foundation. Tickets are only $25.
10:15 to 10:45 p.m.: Candlelight Vigil at First Congregational United Church of Christ (945 G St. NW)
Following the performance, we will host a candlelight vigil outside of the theatre in honor of Matthew Shepard and National Coming Out Day. Matthew’s father, Dennis Shepard, will make remarks. Garrison Gibbons, one of the students from the Ole Miss production of The Laramie Project, will be there. Rev. Dwayne Johnson of Metropolitan Community Church of Washington will lead an interfaith moment of silence. Members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, directed by Dr. Thea Kano, will sing. If you would like to attend the vigil, please rsvp at http://mattshepardvigil.eventbrite.com/
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!