“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?”
(excerpt from “Harlem”, by Langston Hughes)
Following the Senior Performance Series, the Nelda K. Balch Festival Playhouse presented “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry from February 23-26. This was the first play to be written by a black woman and produced by a black director on Broadway, and the same of the sort to be presented on Kalamazoo College’s campus.
The show was directed by K professor of Theatre Arts Karen Berthel. The cast is made up of Kalamazoo College students. The main roles include Quincy Crosby ‘17 who played Walter Lee Younger, Tricia LaCaze ‘18 who played Beneatha “Bennie” Younger, Karishma Singh ‘19 who played Lena “Mama” Younger and Hadiya Deas-Richberg ‘19 who played Ruth Younger.
Quincy Crosby shares his experience on playing the role of a 35-year-old chauffeur who, like he describes, “is just trying to get to that next point of life.”
Since K students are all much younger than the age of the characters they played, Crosby said that the cast brings a different perspective towards issues that “A Raisin in the Sun” introduces through how they interpreted the script and put it on stage.
“I hope that we have created a show that helps young people like us understand the situation better,” said Crosby.
The show itself deals with racism towards African Americans as well as the struggle to secure identities and achieve dreams in American society.
“A Raisin in the Sun” tells the story of the Youngers, a low-income African American family living in Chicago during the 1950s and their fight against racism and poverty. Lena (more often called Mama) receives an insurance pay-out after the death of her husband. She wants to buy a new house for the family, but her son Walter wants to use this money to open a liquor store. As economic and social hardships intensify in the house, each member comes to realize the important values they need to hold on to under any circumstances.
The whole show is set in the Youngers’ home, a run-down two-bedroom apartment in a slum neighborhood on the South side of Chicago.
Without any change of scenery, the static setting portrays exactly the realistic conditions that many African Americans have been through during this time: the repression is visible both physically and mentally, both in society and in their own home. Moreover, the play succeeds in painting the dynamics between family members, more particularly how racism and poverty affect their viewpoints towards life and one another.
“A Raisin in the Sun” was well received by audiences in Kalamazoo throughout 4 consecutive nights. Audiences reacted enthusiastically with laughter to comedic dialogues, especially witty lines.
One such comedic line was said by Beneatha Younger, “The only people in the world who are more snobbish than rich white people are rich colored people. I thought everybody knew that.” Each scene’s ending left an intense and heartfelt emotion that was praised with continual standing ovations.
Hours before the show’s opening night Crosby explained how he hopes people react to the show.
“It’s really entertaining. It’s gonna make you cry, make you open your eyes to a lot of stuff. It might make you cry. It hits you in a wide range of emotions,” said Crosby.