Previews begin next Thursday, January 19, for the critically-acclaimed Ebony Repertory Theatre production of Lorraine Hansberry’s American classic “A Raisin in the Sun,” playing at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre. Opening night is January 22 and performances continue through February 19, 2012.
Cast members include (in alphabetical order) Kenya Alexander, Keith Arthur Bolden, Brandon David Brown, Kevin T. Carroll, Jason Dirden, Deidrie Henry, Amad Jackson, Scott Mosenson, Kem Saunders, Kim Staunton and Ellis E. Williams.
Phylicia Rashad will reprise her direction of the play that Frank Rich of The New York Times said (in 1983) “. . . changed American theatre forever.”
The scenic design is by Michael Ganio, costume design by Ruth E. Carter, lighting design by Elizabeth Harper, sound design by Bob Blackburn and wig and hair design by Carol F. Doran. The production stage manager is David Blackwell.
In conjunction with the presentation of “A Raisin in the Sun” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, CTG is presenting Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Clybourne Park” at the Mark Taper Forum. “Clybourne Park,” which began performances January 11 and will continue through February 26, 2012, is a natural complement to “A Raisin in the Sun,” as Norris imagines the history of one of the more important houses in literary history, both before and after it becomes a focal point in Lorraine Hansberry’s story.
Set in the 1950s, “A Raisin in the Sun” portrays an African-American family and its pursuit of a better life while facing the obstacles of conflicting aspirations, betrayal and racism. Central to the story is a $10,000 life insurance payment that symbolizes freedom in various ways to each family member, including the possibility of buying the family’s first house, located at 406 Clybourne St. in Chicago.
Shining a spotlight on America's struggle to overcome its past, “A Raisin in the Sun” pays tribute to those whose courage helped shape a future filled with faith in the fundamental decency and unlimited capacity of the human spirit.
“The evergreen strengths of Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ come through clearly in Ebony Rep’s near-flawless production . . . ,” said Bob Verini of Variety. “[Rashad] maintains a balance between slice-of-life naturalism circa 1950s Chicago and the playwright’s larger theme of deferred dreams, relevant to every era. Funny and suspenseful . . . this is a revival to savor.”
F. Kathleen Foley of the Los Angeles Times said, “. . . Phylicia Rashad pours heart and soul into her staging . . . [she] nails the play’s rich humor in a solidly rendered production.” “When properly approached,” said David C. Nichols of Back Stage, “Hansberry’s magnum opus ranks with the most enduring Golden Age classics, exactly what its vibrant Ebony Repertory Theatre realization delivers.”
Lorraine Hansberry was 29 when “A Raisin in the Sun” opened on Broadway in 1959. She was the first African-American woman to have a play produced on Broadway. The play won the New York Drama Critics Circle Best Play Award and four Tony Award nominations (Best Play, Director – Lloyd Richards, Actor – Sidney Poitier, and Actress – Claudia McNeil). Hansberry died in 1965 during the run of her second play, “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window.” Upon her death, Martin Luther King, Jr. described Hansberry as “. . . a woman whose creative ability and profound grasp of the deep social issues confronting the world would remain an inspiration to generations yet unborn.”
Phylicia Rashad starred in the 2004 Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” and won the Tony Award for Best Actress (Play), which was the first time in Tony history that an African-American actress won in this category. Her other Broadway credits include “August: Osage County,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Gem of the Ocean” (she starred in the world premiere production at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum in 2003), “Jelly’s Last Jam,” “Into the Woods,” “Dreamgirls” and “The Wiz.” She has appeared in numerous movies and is well known on television as Clair Huxtable in “The Cosby Show.” She made her Los Angeles directing debut with the Ebony Repertory Theatre production of “Raisin.”
Established in 2007, Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT) is the resident company and operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. Founded under the leadership of Producer Wren T. Brown and the late Artistic Director Israel Hicks, ERT’s commitment is to bring diverse, high standard, professional performing arts to the Mid-City community, as well as the greater Los Angeles area, to engender business development along the Washington Boulevard corridor, and to make the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center a cultural destination. ERT’s mission is to create, develop, nurture and sustain a world-class professional theatre rooted in the experience of the African Diaspora and shaped by a dynamic perspective that incorporates an understanding of, and respect for, the unique African-American journey to freedom.
Tickets are available by calling (213) 628-2772, online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, in person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Ahmanson Theatre or two hours prior to performances at the Kirk Douglas Theatre box office.
The Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232.