Local/State

A Raisin in the Sun at the Arden Theatre

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Back in 1959, Lorraine Hansberry broke Broadway's barriers when she became the first African-American woman to produce a play there.

"A Raisin in the Sun" was inspired party by a poem, but also by her own life experiences...being in he first family of color to move into a previously all-white neighborhood.

At first, investors were hard to find, but she persisted. A year later, her show walked off with four Tony awards.

The story centers on three generations of a family which inherits money and is able to buy a home in what was a segregated community.

They deal with change in various ways. 54 years later, the social issues involved still resonate with audiences.

Veteran actress Joilet F. Harris, who plays widowed grandmother Lena Younger, says everyone has dreams and aspirations and struggles to fulfill them. So there;s something for any member of the audience to relate to.

One of the Arden's great success stories, ten-year-old Yannick Haynes plays grandson Travis Younger. He;s spent the last three summers in the Arden's Kids Crew Summer Camp.

He won the role in an audition and is enjoying his first experience before a packed house. Fortunately, he gets early release from school when the show necessitates that.

He hopes to expand his repertoire to televisions...perhaps doing commercials...some day. The show is produced by Walter Dallas, who honed his craft at Freedom Theater.

Harris worked with him there and is enjoying the reunion. Cl;early, the cast is energized by the story they're presenting.

The show isn't part of the Arden's children's series but there are matinees students attend.

The cast finds different generations respond in different ways, so they end up pausing in different places, depending on what each individual audience reacts to.

You won't see him on stage, but company properties master Christopher Haig spent a lot of time and energy creating the 1950's "home" in which the story takes place.

He acquired literally dozens of period-appropriate artifacts, including a refrigerator, a range, and a phonograph.

These items do not "work" in the usual way but appear to do so as the story requires. Haig and his staff make it happen imperceptably.

"A Raisin in the Sun" is at the Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City Philadelphia, through Sunday, April 21st.

For more information or tickets, visit them online at Arden Theatre. You may also phone them for tickets at 215-922-1122. But note that a number of performances have sold out.

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