Red Bank, NJ – Two River Theater opened its 2017 – 2018 season with the classic play, Raisin in The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Debuted on Broadway in 1959, the title comes from one of Langston Hughes poem’s “A Dream Deferred”.
Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in The Sun, rose her to be a critically acclaimed playwright being the first African American to win the New York Drama Critics Circles Award for Best Play of the Year. The play has been revered as changing the landscape of American playwrights, and one of the best playwrights highlighting the black experience. The Two River Theater has continued to display the multifaceted play with direction by Carl Cofield, bringing back faces such as Brandon Dirden, Brenda Pressely, and Crystal Dickinson (Brandon’s wife). Brandon also shares the stage with his father Willie Dirden who plays Bobo.
Raisin In The Sun tells the story of a black family’s experience living in the Chicago Woodlawns area in the 1950s as they attempt to better themselves. The Younger family is dealing with a crisis when find out they will receive $10,000 from an insurance payout after the patriarch has passed away. To them, in the conditions they’re living in, this is a large sum of money and ultimately, might be their ticket out of poverty if spent correctly.
In a small run down apartment, the Younger family develops ideas and clash on what to do with the money as Walter Lee (Brandon J. Dirden) wants to buy a liquor store, and his mother (Brenda Pressley) wants to put some of the money away for her daughter’s (Jasmine Batchelor) medical school tuition and down payment on a house. Walter’s wife Ruth (Crystal Dickinson) is caught between her husband’s dreams and Lena’s sensibility. The play examines each character’s souls and bonds as they try to persevere out of poverty while battling racism.
In high school, I had the honor to play Walter Lee. I’ve also seen the 2008 movie version of Raisin In The Sun starring Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald, Sanaa Lathan, and Sean Combs (Diddy). I have always believed this play is simply voices trying to be heard and navigating through the process.
Walter Lee brought out the best in me. While misunderstood, his character is such a dynamic figure who gives us all a little bit of soul searching. And the bond between his family, especially the women, shows that real love in unmatched.
The set design captured the essence of the Chicago’s lifestyle in the 1950’s and direction by Carl Cofield makes the play come beautifully together, once again.
Raisin In The Sun is running until October 8th at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. Take your family out to enjoy this wonderful play. For more information, please visit www.trtc.org.