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South Coast Repertory (Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei) introduce the theatre’s American Icon series with one of the most impactful plays of the 20th century—A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Directed by Khanisha Foster, A Raisin in the Sun runs Oct. 22-Nov. 12 on the Julianne Argyros Stage.
Tickets to the second production of SCR’s 60th season are available at scr.org.
This marks SCR’s first production of the Hansberry classic, which redefined the American theatre. When A Raisin in the Sun was produced in 1959, Hansberry became the first Black woman to have a play produced on Broadway. Celebrated writer James Baldwin said that “never before in the entire history of the American theatre had so much of the truth of Black people’s lives been seen on the stage.”
It was that kind of impact that Ivers wanted to spotlight in the American Icon series, which he described as stories “about living or deceased people who contributed something of power or impact to our country.” For the American Icon series, he will program plays that tell the stories of the past speaking to the future, charting a path to understanding how figures in various pockets of American history impacted that path.
As an artistic pioneer and one of the most powerful voices of her era, Hansberry is a fitting figure to launch the series.
“You know how there’s required reading? There should be required seeing,” Ivers said. “Frankly, I feel that way about the visionaries of our country and I believe Lorraine Hansberry is one of them.
“A Raisin in the Sun celebrates kinesthetically and in a really beautiful way the realities of what it means to dare to dream inside a neighborhood where you may or may not be welcome, where race is part of the conversation, where struggle and family and literally compression of space becomes part of your reality. How that dream is pursued is something I think audiences will find thrilling to watch.”
A Raisin in the Sun broke down barriers on and off stage. Each of the Youngers, a Black family, has a different view of how to spend their father’s life insurance settlement to better the family. Will they open a business, send Beneatha to medical school or move to an all-white suburb? Hansberry’s masterpiece seeks answers to the still-relevant questions posed in Langston Hughes’ poem Harlem: What happens to a dream deferred?
“Lorraine Hansberry’s play was a milestone in the American theatre that emphasized community in all forms: in family, in neighborhoods and in the greater world around her,” Tomei said. “Her story speaks to our community in so many ways and I really look forward to audiences seeing this timeless classic.”
Foster returns to SCR after acting in the 2023 Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of Crassis by Bleu Beckford-Burrell. She has directed at many regional theatres around the country, and earned a BroadwayWorld award for Best Direction of a Play for her 2019 Virginia Stage Company production of The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. She has also developed projects for film and TV with K&L Productions, Julie Hébert and Electric Shepherd Productions. She is the Director of Equity, Belonging and Engagement for Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles.
A Raisin in the Sun features Nathan Broxton (Travis Younger), Tiffany Yvonne Cox (Ruth Younger), Ashembaga (Ashe) Jaafaru (Beneatha Younger), Errón Jay (Bobo/Moving Man/Ensemble), Veralyn Jones (Lena Younger/Mama), C.J. Lindsey (Walter Lee Younger), David Nevell (Karl Lindner), Junior Nyong’o (Joseph Asagai) and Tristan Turner (George Murchison/Moving Man). Mikayla Conley, Kaci Hamilton, Derrick A. King and Zalen Dociard King are the understudies.
The design and creative team includes Josafath Reynoso, set design; Wendell C. Carmichael, costume design; Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz, lighting design; M. Glenn Schuster, sound design; Zharia O’Neal, dramaturg; and Sasha Smith, fight & intimacy consultant. Joanne DeNaut, CSA, is the casting director. Maisie Chan is the production manager, Letitia Chang is the production stage manager, and Gabrielle Bruno is the assistant stage manager.
A Raisin in the Sun received generous support from Timothy and Marianne Kay/Argyros Family Foundation and Nickie and Mickey Williams.
Tickets are now on sale and range in price from $29 to $105, with additional discounts available for educators, seniors and theatregoers ages 25 and under. Tickets may be purchased online at www.scr.org or by phone at (714) 708-5555. More information is available at www.scr.org.
Sunday, Oct. 29, Wednesday, Nov. 1 and Friday, Nov. 10 (Actor Conversations with members of the cast). Saturday, Nov. 5 (Community Conversation, a presentation and discussion surrounding a theme specific to A Raisin in the Sun).
Inside the Season: Saturday, Nov. 4, from 10:30 a.m.-noon. Led by members of SCR’s literary staff, this lively 90-minute session includes in-depth interviews with cast members and artists from the production staff, revealing secrets and offering insights into A Raisin in the Sun. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.
ASL Interpreted Performance: Saturday, Nov. 4 at 2 p.m.
Location: South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, at the Bristol Street/Avenue of the Arts exit off the San Diego (405) Freeway in the David Emmes/Martin Benson Theatre Center, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Parking is available on Park Center Drive, off Anton Boulevard.