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A Raisin in the Sun at Park Square

A Raisin In the Sun is relevant now more than ever. We live in a country that is struggling to come together after a long and grueling election season. An election season which had an ending that left many people feeling devastated. We now live in a country where those in the margins are feeling fearful. In times like this, where many feel confused and lost, art is often something that is turned to. In this time of confusion, a story about family, about discovering identity, and about standing up to injustices seems like just the touchstone that we need.

Cast of A Raisin In The Sun. Photo by Petronella J Ytsma.​

Park Square’s production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun brings all the heart and authenticity that this piece requires. For those of you who are unsure of, or are rusty on the plot, which I myself was, I am going to steal the plot summary from the show’s program. “Set on Chicago’s South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis, and matriarch Lena. When her deceased husband’s insurance money comes through, Mama Lena dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plants: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. The Younger family’s heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration.”

The Younger family are brought to life on stage by Aimee K. Bryant (Ruth), Darius Dotch (Walter Lee), Am’Ber Montgomery (Beneatha), Greta Oglesby (Lena), and Andre G. Miles (Travis). The entire show is comprised of a very solid ensemble but the standouts were Darius Dotch as Walter Lee and Greta Oglesby as Lena. Darius Dotch’s performance of Walter Lee was full of desperation (which is a good thing). He made me both hate and hurt for Walter. The character of Lena, the matriarch, on the other hand is much more stable. She guides her family and is the one with the check that everyone so desperately wants. Greta Oglesby’s performance was subtle and quiet, which only made Lena seem so much larger.

Cast of A Raisin In The Sun. Photo by Petronella J Ytsma​.

The fun did not end when the lights dimmed on Sunday’s performance of A Raisin in the Sun, as it was the Twin Cities Theater Blogger’s second blogger event hosted with Park Square Theatre. Two of the bloggers, Gina of The Room Where It Happens, and Becki of Compendium, hosted a post-show discussion with Assistant Artistic Director, Jamil Jude. For a show like A Raisin in the Sun which requires so much unloading, it is always valuable to hear what fellow audience members thought. A lot of the discussion was focused on discrimination, and the realization that things have not changed all the much since 1959, when the play was debuted. And although it may be hard to think about, this the play does end with a feeling of hope, improvement and growth. This was mirrored in the post play discussion as people spoke of the value that they felt diversity brought to the communities that they lived in.

So if you are feeling like you need a reminder of hope, resilience and justice, A Raisin In The Sun might just be the show for you. It is playing on Park Square Theater’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage until November 20th.

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