Our school had a wonderful opportunity to work with Seattle Repertory Theater to attend the production of A Raisin in the Sun and work with SRT staff in pre and post-play workshops. The pre-show workshop allowed students to kinesthetically explore the themes of the show and the post-show workshop allowed students to respond to the show in more depth and make connections between the show and the world they live in. Inspired by Lorraine Hansberry, students worked together to create and share stories that include the perspectives and backgrounds they want to see represented in our media.
Prior to watching the play, students read and discussed the Langston Hughes poem Harlem. Students identified the feelings of a dream deferred and potential feelings of frustration. After watching the play, students debriefed in Humanities classes about the main ideas, issues, and individual character's dreams deferred. Students talked about race, class, segregation, and made connections to current events and personal stories of identity.
The story of the Youngers – a poor black family living in Fifties Chicago, facing opposition for merely having the gall to move into a white neighborhood – represents a major fault line in American society which is still bruisingly relevant today. “What they think we going to do – eat ’em?” asks one. “No, honey, marry ‘em”, is the reply.
In addition to being an amazing piece of work, the girls were inspired to learn that Lorraine Hansberry holds the historic distinction of being the first black woman playwright ever produced on Broadway.
It was a powerful experience that provided wonderful opportunities to discuss history, identity, and the power of dreams.