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.
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!