Geva’s production of A Raisin in the Sun opened on Saturday, Feb 25, after 5 preview performances. Every single time I watch the performance, I find myself hoping that it will come out differently this time. Hoping that generosity and not greed will rule the choices of the characters we see onstage, as well as the characters we just hear about. Hoping that somehow history will re-write itself over the course of the play, and that joy will be the overriding emotion. Alas, that never happens, and the play goes on, just as Lorraine Hansberry wrote it – a reflection of our not too distant past. I learn something new every though, which gives me hope. If I, who have seen this show, both in rehearsal and performance, so many times, learn something new each time, then I have hope that audiences gain something new as well.
On opening night, the phrase that gave me pause was a line of Asagai’s (played by Tyrien Andre Obahnjoko) in the second act. As we know, without giving any major plot points away, the play hinges on the decision about what the family will do with the insurance money from the death of the Big Walter. And by this point in the play, it is safe to say that things are not going well for the Younger family. Asagai says to Beneatha (played by Jessica Frances Dukes) “Isn’t there something wrong in a house – in a world – where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man?” On opening night, that line struck me as full of both condemnation and inspiration. And as I think about the many leaders – in the Civil Rights movement especially – whose deaths have cut short the realization of their dreams, that line makes my breath catch.
I look forward to seeing you in the theatre – and to hearing your thoughts! A Raisin in the Sun runs at Geva through March 25.