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A Raisin in the Sun

March 2 – April 2, 2023

Monroe Stage

written by Lorraine Hansberry
directed by Leontyne Mbele-Mbong

“…the play that changed American theatre forever.” —New York Times

The American Classic of a Family’s ‘Dream Deferred.’

Echoing her own trials growing up in a racially divided America, Lorraine Hansberry’s masterpiece delves into the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of a Black family struggling to rise into America’s middle class in 1950’s Chicago.

Anticipating a big life insurance check, Mama dreams of a beautiful new home in a white neighborhood. Her son, a chauffeur, dreams of being his own boss and opening a liquor store. His sister dreams of medical school. The ensuing prejudice they encounter threatens to crush their hopes and dreams, causing them to dry up, “…like a raisin in the sun.”

Hansberry wrote this Pulitzer Prize-winning play, her first, at age 27. She was the first Black playwright to receive both the Drama Desk Award and the Critics’ Circle award for Best Play. A Raisin in the Sun was the first play by a Black female playwright to be produced on Broadway.

Sadly, her playwriting and her voice for women’s civil rights were cut short by her death at age 34.

Come, experience great theatre!

In the News

Theatrius Review Says A Raisin in the Sun "Explodes with Drama and Power"

‘Lorraine Hansberry Revival Reminds Us of Our Opportunities

‘In his eloquent poem “Harlem,” Langston Hughes asks, “What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun?” Lorraine Hansberry selected those words for the title of her 1959 masterpiece drama. Hansberry’s play directly questions the possibility of achieving the American Dream of upward mobility in the face of racial oppression.

‘Director Leontyne Mblele-Mbong immerses us in the Younger family’s cramped 50’s apartment, with Nina Simone barreling from the vintage radio. This Black family aims for a new life by moving from a tenement on Chicago’s South Side to a middle-class white neighborhood. The Youngers’ story is an all too familiar one of racial prejudice and white backlash.’

Read More at Theatrius

Featured Cast

Terrance Smith

Terrance Smith

Terrance Smith (Walter Lee Younger) is back at 6th Street after recently playing Moises in their production of The River Bride. Terrance won a Shellie Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Sam in Brooklyn Bridge at Town Hall Theatre. He was also the runner up for The San Francisco Broadway World Regional Award for Best Featured Actor for his performance in the African- American Shakes’ production of Richard III. And if you’re a fan of the hit Netflix cartoon series, Go! Go! Cory Carson, Terrance provides the voice for the coolest locomotive alive, DJ Train Trax. [@yountsmith23]

KT Masala

KT Masala

KT Masala (Lena “Mama” Younger) is an educator, mentor and actress who has performed with The MacBeth Project, Celebration Arts, African American Shakespeare Company, California Musical Theater, MLK Projects, Theater First Company and What a Time Productions. She is an ELLY Nominated Supporting Actress and ELLY Award Winner. She has assistant-directed, stage-managed and operated lights and sound. KT serves as Co-Founder/Assistant Director of The MacBeth Project, Board Member of Celebration Arts, Co-Founder of Images Theater Company, Founder of Will Succeed Mentor Services, The Audition and Director’s Corner. KT has a master’s degree in Educational Counseling.

Ash’Lee P. Lackey

Ash’Lee P. Lackey

Ash’Lee P. Lackey (Ruth Younger) is fulfilling her dream of playing the role of Ruth. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, she earned her BA in Speech & Theater from Grambling State University. She has been featured in various commercials, independent films, television shows and plays. She has worked with Irma P. Hall, Vivica Fox, Miguel Nunez, Pooch Hall and more. She is the owner of several businesses and is currently a graduating senior at the Academy of Art University.

Amara Lawson-Chavanu

Amara Lawson-Chavanu

Amara Lawson-Chavanu (Beneatha Younger) is making her 6th Street Playhouse debut in a long-time dream role. She has appeared in F* Your Turkey in the Straw on the blk Network. Short films include A Bright Day, Awake and Adonia & Eve, produced through the American Film Institute and Stanford University. She was in a staged reading of Nia Akilah Robinson’s new play for the Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Ground Floor Production series. She engaged in academic research and studied African-American and American studies at Yale University. She has a penchant for 70s music and loves roller-skating.

Bless Johnson

Bless Johnson

Bless Johnson (Travis Younger #1) was born in the big city of New York and started his acting career at the early age of 5. He was first seen in Laurie Berkner’s music video Victor Vito on YouTube which garnered over 1 million views. Now 10-years-old, he has since appeared in Jungle Juice the Series as young James and was featured in Afterthought’s Rockin’ music video. Bless takes acting classes with coach Bridget of Prestige Talent. When not acting, he plays basketball with the Catholic Youth Organization and creates content for TikTok.

Kai Nguyen

Kai Nguyen

Kai Nguyen (Travis Younger #2) is making his 6th Street Playhouse debut. He is 11-years-old and has played the lead in several plays at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. He has participated in several SF Alliance of Black School Educators Annual Oratorical Contests and has won first place for 4 years. Kai is kind, fun and energetic.

Rodney Fierce

Rodney Fierce

Rodney Fierce (Joseph Asagai) is returning to the stage after a long hiatus, during which he completed his PhD in English Literature. He is making his debut with 6th Street Playhouse. Previous roles include Shawn Keogh in Playboy of the Western World and the male lead in Heart!, a play by Obie Award winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. In addition to directing Peter Pan for the Theatre and Dance Department at Princeton University, he is a Humanities teacher at Sonoma Academy.

Mark Anthony

Mark Anthony

Mark Anthony (George) is making his debut performance at 6th Street Playhouse. Mark has been in films and on TV including Earth Mama, Blindspotting and Divine Living. As a classical and contemporary student at SFSU he became an actor, editor, and colorist for films and recently received a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts. He will appear as Corporal Bernard Cobb in A Soldier’s Play at the Altarena Playhouse in Alameda.

Corey Jackson

Corey Jackson

Corey Jackson (Bobo) started his career as a film and TV actor. His first play was From Riverside to Crazy, in which he played the lead, Pops, at Left Edge Theatre Company. He also played Paul in How to Transcend a Happy Marriage. During the pandemic, he did several online plays. He started his career as a film and TV actor and trained at University of Art and Beverly Hills Playhouse.

Jeff Coté

Jeff Coté

Jeff Coté (Karl Lindner) previously played Karl Linder in 6th Street’s 2015 award-winning production of Clybourne Park, a play by Bruce Norris, set just hours after the conclusion of A Raisin in the Sun. Since 6th Street Playhouse’s 2005 inaugural season, he has performed in plays including Over the River and Through the Woods as Nick, The Grapes of Wrath as Noah, Death of a Salesman as Howard, Dirty Blonde as Charlie, Intimate Apparel as Mr. Marks and To Kill a Mockingbird as Atticus Finch. Most recently, Jeff appeared as Ebenezer Scrooge in the musical Scrooge in Love.

The Story

The American Classic of a Black family’s dream deferred.

Based on a True Story.

A Raisin in the Sun is the groundbreaking Classic American Drama about a Black family struggling to achieve their dreams during the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. The South is still segregated by the racist Jim Crow laws while in the North, unofficial racial barriers still exist and continue to oppress Black Americans. That oppression takes its toll on everyone in a family.

It’s the 1950’s, on the South Side of Chicago, and it’s cramped in the run-down, two-bedroom apartment that houses three generations of the Younger family. Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, and their son Travis live with his sister Beneatha and their mother Lena (Mama).

Mama is expecting a check for $10,000, her deceased husband’s insurance money.

Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has dreams of using the money to invest in a liquor store with some friends so that he can be his own boss and improve his financial situation. Mama, a religious woman, doesn’t like the idea. She dreams of buying a house for her family with a garden and sunlight and helping her daughter pay for medical school. Beneatha dreams of becoming a doctor.

Ruth works as a maid for a white family and is her family’s house and peacekeeper. She is worn down and worried about her husband. She knows he needs something she cannot give him. She tries to support Walter’s dream but wants what is best for the family, especially 10-year-old Travis.

Beneatha is ahead of her time, an ambitious, independent, free-thinking, feminist college student. While pursuing her dreams, she is also dating two very different men. Asagai, her Nigerian boyfriend, appeals to her search for her identity and her African roots. George appeals more to Mama because of his wealth and… (Read more) desire to assimilate into white culture.

Ruth collapses from exhaustion and discovers she is pregnant. It is not a good time to bring another child into the tense and already crowded apartment. Much to Mama’s chagrin, Ruth tells her she is considering an abortion.

Walter Lee steamrolls Mama and convinces her to give him part of the money to finance his venture. His self-confidence is instantly buoyed by her trust in him. Mama asks him to set aside $3,000 for Beneatha’s medical school.

Mama makes a down payment on a small home in the suburbs – the white suburb of Clybourne Park. The rest of the family is surprised and realistically anticipates a less than warm reception upon their arrival.

They don’t have to wait long. The “Clybourne Park Improvement Association” sends a representative, Mr. Linder, to offer to buy the house back from the Youngers. The white residents of Clybourne Park do not want a Black family in their neighborhood. The Youngers refuse the offer.

On moving day Walter Lee learns from his partner that they have been swindled out of the money, including the money he was supposed to save for Beneatha’s tuition. He decides to take the racists’ buy-back offer to recoup his loses.

But when Mr. Linder returns to the apartment, Walter Lee holds onto his dignity and changes his mind.

Mama proudly removes her scrawny, long-nursed houseplant from the apartment’s single window to plan in her sunny new garden.

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