Perseverance Brings “Raisin” Back in the Sun
Sequel “Clybourne Park” gets special staged reading
“Did you plan it?” pries Beneatha, Walter Lee’s young sister, who dreams of medical school. “I mean, did you mean to, or was it an accident?”
"What do you know, about planning or not planning?" Ruth interjects. "She’s 20 years old, Lena." Ruth says "Did you plan it?" Beneatha presses again. Snaps Ruth: "Mind your own business." "It is my business,” Beneatha says. “Where is he going to sleep? On the roof?"
Eventually, everyone backs Lena in her decision to buy a house in an all-white neighborhood.
McCoy: "And through all the turmoil and all the conflict, you walk away with a happy ending, you walk away pleased that the right thing happened."
In addition to producing what's being considered a razor-sharp production of “A Raisin in the Sun,” Perseverance went further and teamed up with Cyrano’s Theatre of Anchorage to do a joint reading of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winner 'Clybourne Park,” sort of a sequel to “Raisin.”
Three actors from the “Raisin” cast participated in the reading along with Anchorage actors.
Says director Bostin Christopher: "'Clybourne Park is a meditation on ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ It uses it as an inspiration, as a jumping-off point."
The play by Bruce Norris, a searingly funny torrent of words on the same subjects of race and real estate, is divided in two:
The first act takes place contemporaneously with “Raisin,” in 1959, with the white homeowners in Clybourne Park refusing to reconsider their sale to the younger family.
The only character in both plays, the neighborhood council representative from Clybourne Park, Karl Lindner, is arguing that it would be better to buy the house back.
"Don’t think it's a good idea," says Russ. "Well, Russ, I’m going to ask you at least to keep an open–" Linder persists.
"Karl? What'd I just ask you?" Russ snaps back.
"Well, I think you're being a tad unreasonable.”
“Well, I think we've reached the end of this particular discussion."
"Is that right?"
"Afraid it is."
"Just like that."
"Just like that.”
And the second act is set 50 years later – also in the house that the Younger family purchased.
In 2009, times have changed drastically, and it's a white family trying to buy the house.
"It's sort of that gentrification that a lot of our major cities are going through and which now the property values are risen because of that and it forces people of a lower income to sort of move out,” Mangan says.
Christopher: "It's a great testament and statement about how far we have come or not in the 50 years since 'A Raisin in the Sun.'“
Lorraine Hansberry was just 34 when she died in 1964, on the same night that her other major play, “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” closed on Broadway.
But her insights about dreams and frustrations and race relations remain potent dramatic material in the 21st century.