A R D E N T H E AT R E C O M PA N Y P R E S E N T S
Lorraine Hansberry Directed by Walter Dallas By
Supplementary Study Guide Prepared by Angela Coleman MAR 7 - APR 21 Production Sponsor:
C O N T E N T S
PART 1: THE PLAY About the Play Play Synopsis The Playwright: Lorraine Hansberry Background: The Fight for Housing
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PART 2: THE PRODUCTION Meet the Cast and Crew Production Spotlight: Set Production Spotlight: Costumes Discussion Questions
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ABOUT THE PLAY
PRODUCTION HISTORY A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway on March 11, 1959 and ran through October 17, 1959 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It then reopened October 19, 1959 and ran through June 25, 1960 at the Belasco Theatre. An unexpected success, this play ran on Broadway for a total of 530 performances. Before heading to Broadway, this play saw a trial run at Philadelphiaâ€™s Walnut Street Theatre starring Sidney Poitier.
An issue of Playbill from a 1960 production of Raisin at the Belasco Theatre.
ABOUT THE PLAY
An issue of Playbill from a June 1959 preformance of Raisin at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
Considered an American classic, Raisin has seen many revivals on Broadway and off. One notable revival was the 25th anniversary production directed by Harold Scott that opened at the Roundabout Theatre in New York in 1986. This production broke box office records and won 10 National Theater Awards from the NAACP. Since then A Raisin in the Sun has seen many incarnations of its story. It has been made into a TV movie, a feature film, and a musical. Its most recent Broadway revival was in 2004 running for 88 performances and winning two Tony awards.
CHARACTERS & SETTING Time: Early 1950â€™s
Place: Southside Chicago
Lena Younger (Mama): An older woman and the matriarch of the Younger family. Mother to Walter and Beneatha.
Ruth Younger: A woman of about thirty; wife to Walter and mother to Travis.
Walter Younger: A man in his mid-thirties. Husband to Ruth and father to Travis.
Beneatha Younger: Younger sister to Walter. Currently studying to become a doctor.
Travis Younger: A young boy of ten or eleven. Son of Ruth and Walter.
Joseph Asagai: Nigerian student and love interest to Beneatha.
George Murchinson: Young black man from a wealthy family. An additional love interest to Beneatha.
Karl Lindner: A white man from the Youngerâ€™s new neighborhood.
Bobo: A friend and business partner of Walter Younger.
Act 1 Scene 1 Starting in the early morning, we meet the Younger family as they wake up and get ready for another day. While watching them fight for the communal bathroom in the hall and talk about the future we meet Ruth, Travis, Walter, Beneatha, and Mama. But the fighting and the talk of aspiration is different today. Mama’s husband has recently died and the family is waiting on an insurance check in the amount of ten thousand dollars; an amazing amount of money to this family After being woken up by his mother Travis heads to the hallway bathroom as Ruth and Walter begin their day. Travis returns and signals for Walter to make a run for the bathroom before the next family takes a hold of it. As Walter dashes out, Travis reminds his mother that this is the day that they’re to bring 50 cents to school. Ruth says that the family doesn’t have 50 cents to give him. Travis then asks if he can carry groceries after school to earn the money. As Ruth again says no to this prospect Walter re-enters asking what it is that his son wants to do. Rejecting the notion that the family doesn’t have 50 cents to part with, Walter reaches into his pocket and gives his son not only the 50 cents that he needs, but also a little extra for carfare so he can get to school. Travis leaves and as Ruth makes breakfast Walter talks about his desire to make his family’s life better. He wants to use the insurance money and invest in a liquor store with his friends. Having heard this ambitious talk before, Ruth dismisses Walter’s words and tells him to eat his eggs before they get cold. Walter continues trying to make her understand that their lives should be better than they are. She however isn’t interested and leads the conversation back to his cold eggs. Walter’s increasing frustration then takes the conversation toward black women’s inability to support black men. Beneatha then enters still in her pajamas and frustrated over her inability to use the occupied bathroom. Walter, still reeling over with the lack of support from his wife, finds even less support from his sister. In response to his desire to use the insurance money, Beneatha states that the money belongs to Mama and it is for her to use. Walter then attacks Beneatha for studying to become a
doctor instead of working to support the family. Questioning her wish to be a doctor, something uncommon for women, he suggests that she be a nurse instead or just get married and “shut up”. That comment angers Beneatha, and Walter leaves finding little support from his wife and sister for his cause. Minutes later, he returns asking Ruth for money after realizing that he gave the last of his to Travis. After getting the money, Walter leaves for work. Meanwhile, the previous commotion has woken Mama up and she enters inquiring about the noise. Finding out that it was a fight about the insurance money, Mama then expresses her distaste for investing in a liquor store. What mama really wants is to buy a house for the family. The conversation then turns to Beneatha and her newest interests. One of which being a gentleman named George Murchison, a young man from a wealthy black family. Turning back to the insurance check Mama leaves it up to God’s will to decided what will untimely happen to the money. Beneatha then starts questioning what God’s role is in the situation. She then denies the existence of a god calling the concept a mere idea. The room is shaken up as mama then slaps Beneatha for denying God’s existence. Beneatha soon leaves for the day and once she’s gone, Ruth, who’s been slightly ill for this entire scene, then becomes faint. Mama rushes over to her as she collapses to the floor.
A scene from the London production of A Raisin in the Sun
Act 1 Scene 2
The scene opens with Beneatha and Mama doing household chores. Beneatha is spraying for bugs and Mama is cleaning as they talk about Ruth’s recent visit to the doctor. Mama suspects that Ruth is pregnant. Ruth then returns from the doctor and reveals her pregnancy with visible uneasiness. While Mama welcomes the news of the new baby, Beneatha points out the family’s cramped living situation. This upsets Ruth even more and she leaves the room to think about this unwanted pregnancy. Mama then questions the doctor that Ruth went to see as it was not the family’s regular doctor. She worries that Ruth went to see a women known from preforming abortions. Joseph Asagai, a friend of Beneatha’s, then arrives at the apartment bearing gifts. He’s a Nigerian man who has been studying in Canada and is back to visit Beneatha. He brings her an authentic Nigerian robe that he says belonged to his sister. They discuss assimilation in America and Beneatha’s approach to her rejection of assimilation. The conversation ends with a discussion about their friendship and Beneatha’s reluctance to enter into a romantic relationship with Asagai.
A scene from the 1961 film starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee.
After Asagai leaves, the family goes back to their chores, which are subsequently interrupted by a buzzer; the mail has arrived. Once mama opens the check, Walter starts speaking on his plans for the money. However, Mama still rejects the idea of using the money to in invest in a liquor store. Feeling rejected, Walter then lashes out at Ruth for also not supporting him and starts for the door. In an effort to keep him from leaving, Mama tells Walter that Ruth is pregnant and may be considering an abortion. The urges him to “be a man” like his father was and tell Ruth to keep the child. She urges him to keep his family together and not let his selfish aspirations tear them apart. Walter is unresponsive and sits in silence. Mama then leaves in frustration at her family’s behavior.
Act 2 Scene 1 At the beginning of this scene we see Beneatha parading around the apartment in the robe that Joseph Asagai gave her. In her pride, she proceeds to dance, doing what she says is an African folk dance. Walter then comes home drunk and proceeds to dance with his sister. He starts proclaiming his pride for his African ancestors and speaking about a history of greatness for black people. Ruth suddenly stops the singing and dancing parade and brings peace back to the house as George Murchinson, Beneatha’s date, arrives to pick her up. As George suggests that Beneatha put on proper clothes for their date she takes off the Nigerian headdress that she’s wearing to reveal a change in hairstyle. She now has short un-straightened hair. Amongst the family’s surprise over her major change in appearance, Beneatha and George get into an argument over the value and the importance of appreciating one’s African heritage. Ruth then drags Beneatha into the next room so she can get ready for her date. While Beneatha changes, Walter sits down and tries to talk to George about his ideas. Seeing that George is not interested in speaking with him, Walter starts attacking George and his education. Seemingly unaffected by Walter’s attacks, George leaves on his date with Beneatha. Ruth and Walter are left alone and even though Walter starts off angry, the couple then starts to confront the problems in their relationship. During this conversation, Mama comes home and lets the family know that she’s decided to buy a home for the family in a white neighborhood. Ruth and Travis are very happy for the family but Walter’s anger returns. He leaves the apartment saying that his dreams have been “butchered”.
Act 2 Scene 2 A few weeks later George and Beneatha return to the apartment after one of their dates. As they talk we see that they have very different ideas about the purpose of education and gender roles. Beneatha believes that education should be for growing as a person and exploring the world whereas George is more concerned about a career and getting ahead. George also asks Beneatha to drop her “act” as an independent and intellectual woman. It is at this request that Beneatha asks George to leave. The phone rings and Ruth discovers that Walter hasn’t been going to work. She and Mama question him about what he’s been doing during the day. Walter says he’s been spending his days driving and thinking about his life. He then goes on to say that he’s also been drinking to deal with the deep depression that he has. At hearing this, Mama rethinks her decision to keep Walter from investing in the liquor store. She decides to give him all of the money left over from the purchase of the house; $6500. Her one requirement is that he put $3000 in the bank for Beneatha’s medical school expenses. In his joy Walter then talks to his son Travis about all that he wants for him. Walter ends the scene by promising Travis that his life with be full of opportunity.
Act 2 Scene 1 from the original broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun. Walter dances with his sister Beneatha.
Act 2 Scene 3 It’s one week later and it’s moving day! As the family finishes packing and preparing their belongings, there’s a knock at the door. Beneatha opens it and we meet Mr. Lindner. He’s a white man visiting from the family’s new neighborhood. He introduces himself as being a part of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association and he’s there to talk to the family about their plans to move into his neighborhood. Stating his desire not to cause many of the problems that one generally sees when people of color move into white neighborhoods, Mr. Lindner suggests that it might be better for the family not to move into Clybourne Park. He suggests that things may be better if the family were to stay in a neighborhood with other black people. After this he offers the family a large sum of money to buy their new house back from them. Appalled at this request, the family asks Mr. Lindner to leave. Shortly after, Mama comes home and the family tells her about Mr. Lindner’s visit. Unaffected by the visit, the family continues to prepare for their move by presenting presents to mama in celebration of the new house. Ruth, Walter, and Beneatha give her a shiny new set of gardening tools and Travis gives her an elaborate sun hat. The family then starts again to prepare moving boxes and there is another knock at the door. It’s Bobo, Walter’s business partner. Walter, who is in good spirits, invites him in and they sit as Bobo gives Walter some unsettling news. The plan for the liquor store investment was that Walter and Bobo would give their portions of a down payment to their friend Willy. Willy and Bobo were then to go down to the state office so they could buy the building that would soon become a liquor store. However, Willy has gone missing and has taken all of Walter and Bobo‘s money with him. Mama asks if all the money she had given Walter is gone. She asks about the money that was supposed to be set aside for Beneatha’s medical school. Walter then reveals that he never went to the bank to set aside Beneatha’s money. All of the money is gone. The scene ends with Mama’s distraught cries to God asking for strength.
Act 3 Scene 1 An hour later Joseph Asagai visits the apartment and talks to Beneatha about her plans for the future. Still recovering from the family’s sudden loss of money, Beneatha is very pessimistic about the state of the world. She speaks of the human race as running on a circular track. Traveling without making any progress and always experiencing the misery and hate that they try to overcome. Asagai disagrees with this idea and re-imagines the progress of history as a straight line that “curves into infinity”. A line that still has challenges but experiences progress nonetheless. It is here that Joseph again expresses his affection for Beneatha and asks her to come to Africa with him so they together can aid the progression of the human race. Beneatha, feeling overwhelmed, doesn’t give him an answer and decides to sit and think about it. Joseph allows her some time and leaves her. Joseph leaves and Walter suddenly comes rushing in looking for Mr. Lindner’s card. Finding the card, he leaves again in a hurry without telling anyone what has happened. Meanwhile Mama starts unpacking her boxes and thinking about new ways that she can spruce up the apartment. She says that she sees things differently now and is convinced that the family wouldn’t be able to handle moving into that neighborhood. Ruth, however tries to convince her that they need to move and that she, Walter, and Beneatha will do whatever it takes to make a new life work. Walter then returns and tells the family that he has called Mr. Lindner and asked him to come back to the apartment. He’s planning on accepting the money that was offered to the family. The world, according to Walter, is full of the “takers” and the “tooken”, and he is willing, to put on a show of inferiority in order to take the money that the Mr. Lindner offered. This idea disgusts Mama. Her family history is one of people that worked
very hard for all they had and she disapproves of her son’s willingness to throw away that tradition of dignity. As she tries to convince Walter that this isn’t the way to solve their problems, Mama asks him to consider his son and what this plan will teach him. Confronted with his son’s future and the person he could become, Walter changes his mind about taking the money. When Mr. Lindner arrives at the apartment, Walter speaks of his family’s pride and tells Mr. Lindner that they will still be moving into their new home. Mr. Lindner leaves and our play ends with the family making the final preparations to leave the apartment and move into their new home.
Mama takes one last look at the apartment before the family leaves.
Lorraine Hansberry (1930- 1965) Born in 1930 Loraine Hansberry was a playwright, essayist, and poet. A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway when she was only 28 and its instant success won her the 1959 New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Starting a legacy of firsts, Hansberry was the youngest person and the first black woman to have ever won the award. She was also the first black woman to have a play produced on Broadway. A native of Chicago IL, Hansberry was born to influential parents who taught her the importance of civil responsibility, racial pride, and of challenging exclusionary policies and social practices. They themselves started the Hansberry Foundation; an organization meant to inform African-Americans about their civil rights.
Lorraineâ€™s father, Carl Hansberry actively challenged exclusionary housing practices by moving the family into an all-white neighborhood covered by a racially restrictive building covenant. This covenant made it illegal for AfricanAmericans to own or occupy any of the property in that neighborhood. Yet, the family found a way to make that neighborhood their home. The Hansberryâ€™s however were forced to leave after an incident where an angry mob threw a
brick through the window of the family home. Afterwords, Carl had a slight victory in court against restrictive houing practices but real change didn’t occur until the fair housing act of 1969. Hansberry’s own activism started while she was in college at the University of Wisconsin where she studied journalism. She integrated an all-white women’s residence hall and became active in her campus’ Young Progressive Association. During her sophomore year she served as the organization’s president. After attending for only two years, Lorraine left the University of Wisconsin, and moved to New York where she wrote for and eventually became the associate editor for Freedom Magazine; an activist magazine who published works from W. E. B. Dubois, Paul Robeson, Alice Childress, and James Baldwin. During her time in New York with Freedom, Lorraine became heavily involved in Harlem’s cultural and political life. She spent much of her time reading about African-American history, culture, arts, and politics. She was especially influenced by the work of William Shakespeare, W. E. B. Dubois, Fredrick Douglass, and Langston Hughes, whose poem, A Dream Deferred prefaces her play A Raisin in the Sun.
Lorraine dances with fellow writer and Freedom Magazine contributer James Baldwin.
During a demonstration at New York University, Hansberry met Robert Barron Nemiroff, a recent graduate of the school. In June of 1953 they married and moved to Greenwich Village where they both sought to concentrate on writing. After the opening of Raisin, Hansberry was in great demand as a public speaker. She believed in the social nature of art and encouraged black writers to address all issues of humanity. Becoming an active member of the civil rights movement she helped raise money for organizations like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She also called for an end to the Un-American Activities Committee and criticized President John F. Kennedy for endangering world peace during the Cuban missile crisis. During the last few years of her life Hansberry continued to write. These subsequent plays, however, were not as successful as A Raisin in the Sun. After her death Robert Nemiroff collected many of her finished and unfinished writings and adapted them for the stage under the name To Be Young, Gifted, and Black. This show became the longest-running drama in the 1968â€“1969Â Off-Broadway season. In 1963 Lorraine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away just two years later on January 12th 1965. She was 34 years old.
Lorraine playing the guitar.
The Fight for Housing While Mr. Lindner’s visit to the Younger’s apartment was a work of fiction, it was a reality for many black families in Chicago from 1916 to 1948. During this time, racial segragation was enforced by legally binding agreements called restrictive building covenants. Members of a white community could enter into such an agreement making it illegal for African-Americans to own or occupy property on a designated parcel of land. These covenants were so widespread that by 1940 over 80% of the property in Chicago was covered by one of these covenants. Lorraine Hansberry’s father, Carl Hansberry, went to court to fight for his family’s right to live in a home bound by one of these restrictive covenants. He had a minor victory and was able to overtun the covenant in that neighboorhood. However, racially restrictive covents weren’t officially deemed unconstitiontial by the supreme court until 1948.
An issue of the Chicago Defender from Nov 16th, 1940 announcing Carl Hansberry’s victory in court.
HOW? Simular to the Clybourne Park Inprovement Association, these restrictive convents were agreements that would represent an entire connumity. The majority of the community had to agree to and sign a legal document that said that their particular plot of land would be covered by this covenant. Below is one such agreement that a homeowner would sign so that the covenant could take effect.
WHY? Originally framed as a peacefull and progressive way to prevent racial violence, these covenants arose in response to the Great AfricanAmeican Migration from 1910 and 1940.
This migration saw the relocation of 6 million African-Americans from southern to northern and western cities. During the 1920â€™s alone the great migraiton brought more that 500,000 African-American to the city. With this sharp increase in the black population and the high demand for housing, racially restrictive convenants were instated to keep white neighborrhoods white.
Once these covenants were deemed unconstitutional in 1948, there was an explosion of minoroty settlements witin Chicago neighborhoods that were once unavailable to them.
By LORRAINE HANSBERRY Scenic Designer
F. MITCHELL DANA
ALEC E. FERRELL
Directed by WALTER DALLAS^
P R OD U C T I O N
A RAISIN IN THE SUN
CREW & CAST
SEGUN AKANDE (Joseph Asagai/Moving Man) is thrilled to make his Arden Theatre debut. Off-Broadway: Les Liaisons Dangereuses,The Poet (Chester Horn Outstanding Actor) Regional: Ruined (Florida Studio Theatre), A Raisin In The Sun (Arkansas Repertory Theatre), To Kill A Mockingbird (Arrow Rock Lyceum), and Ruined (Arena Stage; 2012 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Resident Play) directed by Charles RandolphWright (Motown). Film/TV: Sex and the City 2, Mother of George (Official Sundance selection), The Good Wife,The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and commercial and voice over work for New York/New Jersey Lottery, EPIX HD, BET, Gatorade, and Bud Light. Graduate of Duke University where he was a running back for the Blue Devils, majoring in political science. www.meetsegun.com JALEESA CAPRI (Beneatha Younger) is a Brooklyn, NY native and a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Howard University; where she received her B.F.A. in Theatre Arts-Acting. This versatile stage and film actress is delighted to make her Arden Theatre debut in such a timeless piece of American Theatre. Jaleesa was recently seen in the three-time AUDELCO Nominated production of August Strindberg’s Playing With Fire (Negro Ensemble Company). She is very thankful for the productions that she has been a part of thus far; as well as training institutions (such as the British-American Drama Academy in Oxford, New Federal Theatre, and The School for Film&TV) that have and are continuing to hone her artistry. Jaleesa is grateful for her supportive family and strives to be the kind of actor that makes a difference on & off the stage, in efforts to effectuate universal help and change. God is continuously blessing her and walking her down the road to success. www.jaleesacapri.com KASH GOINS (Bobo) is an actor, playwright and producer whose first theatrical experience was in A Raisin in the Sun as a student at Lincoln University. Several years later, he was fortunate to gain work under the direction of Walter Dallas in Sparkle,The Musical, Lazarus, Unstoned, and The Bluest Eye. In 2008 Kash founded GoKash Productions and has mounted six original self-written plays, including the 2009 NYC Downtown Urban Theatre Festival Best Play winner VI Degrees, and the 2010 Award Winning sequel VII Deadly Sins. Goins, producer of the Philly Urban Theatre Festival most recently appeared as an actor in the 2012 productions: GoKash Productions’ Topdog/Underdog at Walnut St. Theatre, Stagecrafters Theatre’s Jitney, Plays and Players’ Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and Bryana Michelle’s The Repast. LEONARD C. HAAS (Karl Lindner) is very happy to be returning to the Arden Theatre. He made his Philadelphia theatre debut here way back in 1996 and has performed at many theatres in the region since, including The Wilma, Walnut Street, New Paradise Laboratories, 1812, Bristol Riverside, Act II Playhouse, Luna Theatre, Mum Puppettheatre, Hedgerow, Lantern, Cape May Stage, and People’s Light and Theatre Co., where he has performed in over 30 productions as a member of their Resident Ensemble of Artists. Off-Broadway credits include The Little Prince at the New Victory. Next up: Lloyd Dallas in People’s Light and Theatre Company’s Noises Off, July 2013. As always, love to my family and love to Mary Lee.
CREW & CAST
JOILET F. HARRIS (Mama) is happy for her longtime relationship with The Arden and thrilled to be working with Walter Dallas again!. Last seen here onstage as Woman in Tulipomania. Joilet is the recipient of the Barrymore Award for Most Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her role as Caroline in Caroline or Change here at the Arden. Other recent credits include: Ella in Ella,The Ella Fitzgerald Story, Detective Caroline on the HBO series The Wire, Law & Order SVU and the upcoming Do No Harm. To God Be The Glory!!! YANNICK HAYNES (Travis Younger) is a 5th grade student in the Spanish Immersion Program at Philadelphia’s Independence Charter School. He’s attended the Arden Theatre’s Kids’ Crew Summer Camp for the last 3 years and feels most at home on the stage. In addition to his burgeoning interest in acting,Yannick is a purple belt in Shotokan karate.Yannick enjoys spending time with his friends, reading graphic novels and family vacations with his parents, older sister, Olivia, and his grandparents. PETERSON TOWNSEND (George Murchison/Moving Man) is excited to be in Philadelphia with the Arden once again, where he was last seen as Prince Sebastian in Cinderella. He also played Crowther in History Boys and George Gibbs in Our Town in Old City. Other credits include Sebastian in Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Reggie Banks in Big Doolie (NYC Fringe); Aida, Macbeth, Carmen, Billy Budd, Anna Bolena, Nixon in China, La Traviata (Met Opera); Hospital (Axis Theatre); Northstar, A Lesson Before Dying (Triad Stage); Wanchese in The Lost Colony (Waterside Theatre); Young Mickey in The Day the Bronx Died, Silvius in As You Like It (Raymond Hodges Theatre). Television credits: Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order, Gossip Girl, Sally Hemmings: an American Scandal. U.R. (Walter Lee Younger) last seen as Winston in The Island at Lantern Theater Co, the General in Ruined at Philadelphia Theatre Company, Blue Door and The Piano Lesson at the Arden, amongst several other characters at several other theaters in several other places. Baconion characters include, Macduff, Othello, Puck, Don Jon, Oberon, Corialanus, Mercrutio, amongst others. T.V: Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order. NIKKI E. WALKER (Ruth Younger) Manhattan Theatre Club: Olivia u/s in An American Plan. Alabama Shakespeare Festival: Mae in Flagmaker of Market Street. McCarter Theatre: Ghost of Present in A Christmas Carol. York Theater: Ginger in Jamaica. Lincoln Center/ Starfish Works: Sandra in Buildings a Popera. Ensemble Studio Theatre: Angelique in Trickle by Kia Cortheran. NY Classical Theater in Central Park: Kate in Taming of the Shrew/Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. Regional: Denver Theatre Center: Sadie in Gee’s Bend; The Goodman Theater: L’eila Walker in The Dreams of Sara Breedlove written/ directed by Regina Taylor; Indiana Rep/Syracuse Stage: Esther in Intimate Apparel; Geva Theater: Mrs.Muller in Doubt; Actors Theater of Louisville Humana Festival: Regina in Classyass; Shakespeare Theater DC: Madame Centaur in The Silent Woman directed by Micheal Kahn. Television & Film: Do No Harm, Deception, Unforgettable, Bored to Death, 30 Rock, The Sopranos, Law & Order Trial by Jury / Criminal Intent, Sex and the City. Also numerous commercial and voiceover credits.
CREW & CAST
WALTER DALLAS (Director) has directed at major regional theatres, on and Off-Broadway, and abroad. Also a professional photographer, his work was presented in a two-month solo exhibition at the Arden Theatre Company, and can be seen in the Online Gallery of National Geographic Magazine. Dallas made his opera directorial debut with a record-breaking Porgy and Bess for the Opera Company of Philadelphia. His own gospel opera, Lazarus, Unstoned, had its world premiere to popular and critical acclaim at New Freedom Theatre. His world premiere production of August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, starring Viola Davis at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, was named one of the Top Ten Productions of the Year by Time Magazine. Other accolades include Creative Genius Awards, an NAACP Image Award nomination, Atlanta’s “Walter Dallas Day,” a 2010 Barrymore nomination for Best Direction for Blue Door at the Arden, and a 2011 Helen Hayes Recommendation for Blues for An Alabama Sky at African Continuum Theatre in Washington, DC. Dallas was the first Director of the School of Theatre at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and, following legendary John Allen, Jr., was the second Artistic Director of New Freedom Theatre. Since 2008, Dallas has served as Senior Artist-in-Residence in the University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. Dallas is a graduate of Morehouse College and the Yale School of Drama. DANIEL CONWAY (Scenic Designer) has worked extensively Off-Broadway and in the regional theatre. Productions of note include: the premieres of Lily Dale, by Horton Foote at The Samuel Beckett Theatre, New Music by Reynolds Price at The Cleveland Playhouse, and the American premiere of Brecht’s Conversations in Exile at The New Theatre of Brooklyn. At the Arden: Crime and Punishment, Ben Franklin’s Apprentice, Blue Door, The Pavillion, Cyrano and August: Osage County. Recent work includes: MacBeth and Orestes, A Tragic Romp for The Folger Shakespeare Theatre; Macbeth for Two River Theatre Company; Stunning ( American premiere) for Woolly Mammoth Theatre; the national tour of Blues Journey for The Kennedy Center Family Theatre; Sabrina Fair for Ford’s Theatre; and Radio Golf for The Studio Theatre where he has designed over two dozen productions. For the Tony Award- Winning Regional Theatre, Signature Theatre, Mr. Conway designed The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Dirty Blonde, Chess, and Sunset Boulevard. Current projects include: the premiere of Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch for The Studio Theatre and The Merry Wives of Windsor for The Shakespeare Theatre. Nominated for the award twelve times Mr. Conway is the recipient of the 2000 and 2008 Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Set Design, and is the head of the M.F.A. in Design program at The University of Maryland, College Park. ALISON ROBERTS (Costume Designer) Alison Roberts is starting her thirteenth season as Arden’s Costume Supervisor. She has a BA in Theatre Arts from Rowan University and an MFA in Costume Design and Technology from Illinois State University. In addition to her staff position, she has designed costumes for numerous Arden productions including this season’s Next to Normal. You can also see her freelance design work with Theatre Exile and Philadelphia Young Playwrights later this year. MITCHELL DANA (Lighting Designer) designed Something Intangible and History Boys at the Arden, and over 600 plays, musicals, and operas, on and off Broadway, on tour, and in regional theatres such as, the Mark Taper, Walnut Street , Paper Mill, Seattle Rep, Royal Opera UK, Opera Festival of NJ, MTC, Roundabout Theatre, Goodman Theatre, the St. Louis Muny, and the LA Opera. He is vice president of United Scenic Artists, and teaches at Rutgers University. ROBERT KAPLOWITZ (Sound Designer) designed Blue Door here for Mr. Dallas; other Arden credits include Superior Donuts and The Flea and The Professor. His work has been heard locally with The Wilma, Interact, Walnut Street, PLTC, Elastic, Lucidity Suitcase and PTC; further flung credits include Lincoln Center, The National Theatre of England, The Public, MTC and Sundance. Robert’s been honored with an OBIE for Sustained Excellence in Sound Design and a Tony for Fela! and loves his family more than any work he’s ever done. WILLIAM TOUSSAINT (Assistant Director) is an actor and director who came to Philadelphia about 4 years ago to study acting at UArts. Since then he has worked as an actor with Delaware and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festivals, National Constitution Center, Pub Theatre Company, and several others including, most recently, the Arden. He has directed and acted in several Philly Fringe Festival productions since 2009 and has his own theatre company, Passion Plays Theatre Co. Many thanks go to Walter, Matt, my friends (SMC), and my mother, to whom this project is dedicated. ALEC E. FERRELL (Stage Manager) is happy to be with the Arden for their 25th Anniversary Season. Past Arden credits include: Next to Normal; August: Osage County; A Moon for the Misbegotten; Ghost-Writer (World Premiere); Blue Door; Rabbit Hole; My Name is Asher Lev (World Premiere); Cinderella; Robin Hood; Charlotte’s Web; The Flea and the Professor (World Premiere). Other work with PlayPenn, PTC@Play, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Theatre Horizon. Proud Member AEA, SMA. Many thanks and love to the family.
SET Before rehearsals began, senic designer Daniel Conway created a model of the set and a ground plan for the production team.
What can we tell about the world of the play based on what the set shows us? What kind of neighborhood does this family live in? How can we tell?
SET After two months of building and loading the set into the space, this is the finished product.
Costumes COSTUMES Costume designer Alison Roberts, created a different look for the characters for each and every scene. While some of the costume pieces were purchased, many of them were specially made for the show in the Ardenâ€™s costume shop.
Lena Younger (Mama)
1. What does Walter mean when he refers to African Americans as “The world’s most backward race of people”? (Scene 1) 2. In scene 1, Walter talks about the black women’s inability to support black men. However, in the same scene, he puts down his sister for her aspirations to be a doctor. Is Walter employing a double standard in this scene? Give reasons for why or why not. 3. What is Beneatha’s new hairstyle in response to? What kind of statement is she trying to make to the world? 4. Who has Ruth actually gone to see instead of the doctor? Why does she consider taking this route? 5. What does Beneatha mean by the term “assimilationist”? Can you think of other words or phrases meaning the same thing? 6. What does the Youngers’ new house signify to Ruth? To Mama? Why does Walter so strongly resist the idea of moving? 7. How does Beneatha’s idea of God differ from Mama’s? How do these different ideas affect how they each respond to the events in the play? 8. Does Walter’s failed investment confirm Mama’s belief that the Youngers are not business people but plain working folks? 9. How does Mr. Lindner use language to make his proposal to the Youngers sound almost like a reasonable one? 10. Why is Mama’s little plant so important to her? Why does she need to take it to the new house? What does it signify and why does she say “It expresses me” ?
11. Why does Beneatha’s belief in the importance of doctors and medicine change after Walter loses the family’s money? 12. After he has been robbed, Walter says that life is divided “between the takers and the ‘tooken’”. Do the final events of the play prove him wrong? If so, how? 13. What does it mean, to Walter, to be a “Man”? How does that change over the course of the play? 14. Lorraine Hansberry prefaces her play with a poem by Langston Hughes. How does the play illustrate the theme of the poem? Describe the dreams of each of the characters and how they are changed and shaped by the events in the play. 15. Beneatha declares that she is searching for her “identity.” What does her search consist of? Does she find it, at the end of the play? 16. In the play Mama criticizes Walter for not appreciating all that his parents did for him. She also says, “We ain’t no business people, Ruth. We just plain working folks”? However, she also supports her daughter Beneatha’s desire to go to medical school. How does mama really feel about her children’s aspirations? Does she want them to reach for something greater, or does she see value in appreciating and living with what one has. 17. Think about Walter’s insistence that money is life. Track Walter’s character arc throughout the play. How important is money to him by the end? What role do you think money will take in his life after the family moves? 18. Do you think that the problems that the Youngers must confront are specific to the African American family? What in the play do you see as specifically African American, and what is universal? 19. Does the play have a happy ending? Think about this family’s past and their potential future. Do you think this move was a good idea? Try and predict what the future holds for this family.
20. The present popularity of A Raisin in the Sun would implies that the play is as relevant to contemporary audiences as it was when it first appeared. Which issues addressed in the play are still immediate, and which are specific to the time when the play was written? Has life for African Americans gotten better or worse since that time? In what ways? 21. What does Beneatha, as a woman, want from society? In what ways do her ambitions differ from those of her mother? Of Ruth? Do you think that Beneatha would find her life easier or more fulfilling in the todayâ€™s world?