A Raisin in the Sun Revisited: The Raisin Cycle at Center Stage explores the history and legacy of Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking 1959 drama through the staging of two modern plays it inspired: Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park and Beneatha's Place by Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of Baltimore's Center Stage theater company. The program premieres Friday, October 25 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) as part of the PBS ARTS FALL FESTIVAL, which highlights artists and performances from around the country and invites every American into the worlds of music, theater, opera and cultural history.
A Raisin in the Sun was the first Broadway play to depict the strength and humanity of an African-American family striving for a piece of the American dream by buying a house in a white working-class neighborhood in Chicago. More than 50 years later, playwright Bruce Norris created Clybourne Park, a sardonic Pulitzer Prize-winning prequel/sequel that takes place in the same Chicago house and revisits the questions of race, real estate and gentrification in America. Inspired by Hansberry's original and Norris' follow-up, Kwame Kwei-Armah penned Beneatha's Place, which follows two of the Raisin characters to Nigeria and its post-colonial struggles.
Baltimore's acclaimed regional theater CenterStage mounted Clybourne Park and Beneatha's Place in repertory as "The Raisin Cycle", in celebration of the theater's 50th anniversary season. Filmmakers captured the drama and cultural significance of simultaneously mounting two issue-driven plays. The resulting 60-minute documentary not only reflects the legacy of Hansberry's original work but also underscores the considerable backstage work that goes into making a performance pairing to this caliber. Actors, creative team members, and Center Stage producers talk candidly about their work in the rehearsal room and beyond. Rehearsals, meetings and costume fittings are paired with footage of Center Stage's performances, the 1961 film and insights from theater historians.