A Raisin in the Sun, a timeless and profound play by Lorraine Hansberry, revived recently by Dawn Walton, paints an influential portrait of the racial tensions of late 1950s America. Almost 60 years since the play first premièred, A Raisin in the Sun speaks out to the liberal hypocrisy of acceptance and the blindingly obvious segregation of the black and white races. The play was immensely popular for an evidently strong and clear artistic narrative to the dismissal of human and civil rights during a movement that changed and shaped society forever.
Performed at The Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, from the 23rd to the 27th of February, A Raisin in the Sun embodied the angry realism of racial tensions, emphasising the empowering authority of the supreme white race. Ashley Zhangazha portrayed Walter Younger, the eldest and belligerent son of the Younger family, who depicts scenes of hope for prosperity alongside selfish and irrational mistakes. An explosive and argumentative character with the rest of his family, Zhangazha emphasises a character of great hope for success for their future.
Depicted in some heartbreaking scenes of an artistic response to the hope for civil rights, Ashley Zhangazha elicits the truth of segregation and dismissal of equality with a great embodiment of passionate thought. He creates an artistic reality of the gradual breakdown of a man in late 1950s America, from the economic strains of taking care of his family to both the hopes and destruction of his dreams in business. A thought that speaks loud and clearly, timeless even in today’s day and age of humanity.
After buying a house for £10,000 in the notoriously white area of Clybourne Park, the strong willed matriarch of the Youngers, Lena, also known as Mama, is portrayed by Angela Wynter. Wynter reflects the character of ‘Mama’, as an elderly women displaced in a society of dismissal for equality. Wynter not only portrays a clear character reflection of intelligence and an empowering influence over the decisions of her family, but reveals a character of true admiration and nurture to those around her, including her beloved plant that sits on the shaded windowsill but still seems to be flourishing. After recently receiving an insurance payment, it is between Walter’s dreams for a business, a home for her beloved grandson, Travis and payments for her daughter Beneatha (Susan Wokoma) to attend medical school and become a doctor, she must choose to fund.
Beneatha, perhaps the most valuable essence to the narrative of the performance, explores themes of great resistance to the assimilation of her race into white culture. She is an ambitious and sharp-tongued educated young woman, of great moral beliefs and views her pathways to have little obstruction. Susan Wokma represents Beneatha for who she is; a danger to the social standards of societal norms. She underlines a gradually growing shift of patterns for not only women but black women to have ambitious career goals and Wokma reflects the character for her little fear of those whom may oppress her. She is fundamental to the questioning of equality and the upbringing of the civil rights movement.
Lorraine Hansberry depicts the true reality and opened doors of family life. With scenes of intimacy of hope and progress alongside the search for an identity in a white supremely dominated society, Dawn Walton’s touch to the timeless play brings about a refreshing but classic touch to the topic and narratives of the civil rights movement, broaching profound issues and conflicts within the standardised societal norms of all of society. In a crowded Chicago home, the Youngers futures are left uncertain based on the concluded ending of the play, however they represent a sense of optimism for the futures they individually behold. As a family by resisting the authority of inequality, strive for the fulfilment of a dream deferred no longer.
Originally written by: Alex Middleton