ARIZONA THEATRE COMPANY STAGES THE BELOVED AMERICAN CLASSIC A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Lorraine Hansberry’s powerful drama of family, hope and the struggle to realize dreams
Exactly fifty years ago, a play opened that would change American theatre forever. Written by Lorraine Hansberry, it was the first Broadway play authored by an African American woman and led by an African American director. Hailed as “a seething interplay of past and present, of wisdom and passion” by The New York Times, A RAISIN IN THE SUN became not only a hit, but an American classic that has withstood all tests of time and relevance. A RAISIN IN THE SUN, under the direction of Lou Bellamy, plays in Tucson at the Temple of Music and Art from January 10 through January 31. It continues its run in Phoenix at the Herberger Theater Center from February 5 through February 22. The Tucson production sponsors for A RAISIN IN THE SUN are Chase and The Stonewall Foundation and the Phoenix production sponsors are Chase and US Airways. Arizona Theatre Company’s season underwriters are I. Michael and Beth Kasser.
“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” wrote the poet Langston Hughes. A gripping and explosive tale of one family living and learning together on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s, A RAISIN IN THE SUN encompasses the themes of race and equality. The story centers on the dream of owning one’s own home, as the Younger family searches for a way to grab their piece of the dream, even in the face of prejudice and discrimination. When Lena Younger receives a life insurance payout from the passing of her husband, her family must decide how to spend the inheritance. Her children, Walter and Beneatha, each have dreams of how to invest the money in a better life, but Lena holds onto the dream of moving her family of five out of a one-bedroom apartment into a house of their own. When the family discovers that the house is in a white neighborhood, they find themselves faced with difficult choices about their future.
A RAISIN IN THE SUN is the second production in ATC’s AMERICA PLAYS! Celebrating Great American Stories initiative. This ambitious multi-year series of beloved American classics includes free community engagement activities designed to enhance ATC patrons’ experience of this classic play. Free events for A RAISIN IN THE SUN include a series of poetry slams and community open mic events centered on Langston Hughes’ poem “Dream Deferred,” an essay contest for youth, pre-show lectures and a community rebuilding event where ATC staff, patrons and members of local housing advocacy organizations work together to build and beautify a home for someone in the local community. All AMERICA PLAYS! events are free and open to the public.
Lou Bellamy (Director) returns to Arizona Theatre Company having directed the acclaimed production of August Wilson’s Jitney two seasons ago. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, Minnesota. Under his leadership, Penumbra has produced 23 world premieres, including August Wilson’s first professional production, and is proud to have produced more of Mr. Wilson’s plays than any theatre in the world. Mr. Bellamy is an Obie Award-winning director, an accomplished actor and sought-after scholar. Recent directing credits include Penumbra’s production of Gem of the Ocean presented at the Guthrie Theater, Fences and The Piano Lesson at Penumbra Theatre Company, Two Trains Running at the Signature Theatre in New York, Jitney at Kansas City Repertory Theatre and the staged reading of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the Kennedy Center last summer.
Playing the members of the Younger family in A RAISIN IN THE SUN are Franchelle Stewart Dorn (Lena Younger), who heads the acting program at the University of Texas. She has spent the past forty years as an actress playing dozens of roles in theatres across the country including Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Yale Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre and The Cleveland Play House. Television and film credits include Law & Order, Another World, Literary Visions, The Pelican Brief and Die Hard with a Vengeance; Erika LaVonn (Ruth Younger) has appeared at ATC in Crowns and Seven Guitars. She has performed on Broadway in The Lion King. Ms. LaVonn has also worked at Union Square Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Shubert Theatre in Boston, Portland Center Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Denver Center Theatre Company, The Cleveland Play House and many others; David Alan Anderson (Walter Lee Younger) is a frequent performer at Indiana Repertory Theatre where his many credits include Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, Searching for Eden and Gem of the Ocean. He is a member of Penumbra Theatre Company and his regional credits include appearances at Berkshire Theatre Festival, People’s Light & Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Geva Theatre Center and Syracuse Stage; Bakesta King (Beneatha Younger) resides in Chicago where she is an ensemble member of Congo Square Theatre. Her Chicago credits include A Lesson Before Dying at Steppenwolf Theatre, Crumbs from the Table of Joy at Goodman Theatre, and Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Deep Azure and Layla's Dream with Congo Square Theatre.
Also appearing are Adeoye (Joseph Asagai) who most recently appeared in Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Icarus at The Getty Villa in California, and in the Victory Gardens Theater festival IGNITION: Emerging Playwrights of Color. Other credits include Black Diamond: The Years the Locusts Have Eaten at Lookingglass and The Unmentionables at Steppenwolf, Clarence Brown Theatre and Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Damron Russel Armstrong (Bobo) has performed regionally at Paper Mill Playhouse, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Coterie Theatre and others. Kyle Haden (George Murchison) has performed in Defiance at the Arvada Center, Hamlet at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Richard III, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Visit and The Comedy of Errors at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Richard 3 at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Sacramento Theatre Company. Patrick O’Brien (Karl Lindner) has appeared nationally at the New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles Shakespeare Festivals; the La Jolla, Pasadena, and George Street Playhouses; The Old Globe, Arena Stage, Mixed Blood Theatre, and the Old Log Theatre. Also appearing in the ensemble is Victor Bowleg (Moving Man).
The design team includes Vicki Smith (Scenic Designer) who designed the ATC productions of Jitney; Love, Janis; Hank Williams: Lost Highway; Dirty Blonde; Master Class; The Last Night of Ballyhoo, and many others. She has worked for theatres around the country, including Denver Center Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Cleveland Play House, and numerous others. Matthew J. LeFebvre (Costume Designer) returns to ATC where he designed costumes for Jitney. His Off-Broadway credits include Two Trains Running at Signature Theatre and Bach at Leipzig for New York Theatre Workshop. Mr. LeFebvre has designed costumes for fifteen productions at Guthrie Theater. Other regional credits include The Acting Company, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Geffen Playhouse, Mixed Blood Theatre and many shows with Penumbra Theatre Company. Michelle Habeck (Lighting Designer) designed lighting for the ATC production of Jitney. Her design work has been seen at many of the nation’s leading theatres including Guthrie Theater, Goodman Theatre, CENTERSTAGE, Alliance Theatre and Penumbra Theatre Company, among others. James C. Swonger (Sound Designer) is the Resident Sound Designer at The Cleveland Play House. He has also designed for Cleveland’s Lyric Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Pioneer Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre. The Stage Manager is John Kingsbury. A RAISIN IN THE SUN is a co-production with The Cleveland Playhouse and Penumbra Theatre Company.
Arizona Theatre Company offers accessibility services for patrons with disabilities for select performances. Audio Description provides patrons with vision loss a running audio description of the movement and activities onstage through an infrared broadcast system. Audio-described performances are offered on January 28 at 2 PM and January 29 at 2 PM. Interested patrons may request a tactile tour one hour prior to curtain. American Sign Language interpretation is presented by professional, theatrically-trained ASL-interpreters for people who have deafness or hearing impairment. An ASL-interpreted performance is offered on January 29 at 7:30 PM. Open-captioning allows patrons to read the play’s dialogue on an LED screen as the play progresses. An open-captioned performance is offered on January 29 at 2 PM. For open-captioned or ASL-interpreted performances, patrons should request seats best suited to ASL interpretation or captioning when purchasing tickets. Large Print and Braille playbills and Infrared listening amplification devices are also available at every ATC performance with reservation. TTY access for the box office is available in Tucson at (520) 884-9723 or via Arizona Relay at (800) 367-8939 (TTY/ASCII).
Tickets range from $26-$50 depending on date and section choice and are available at www.arizonatheatre.org or by calling the box office at (520) 622-2823. Discounts are available for students, seniors and active military on specific performance days. Half-price rush tickets are available for balcony seating for all performances one hour prior to curtain at the ATC box office (subject to availability). Ten Dollar Tuesday for A RAISIN IN THE SUN is January 13. Balcony seats for this preview performance are available for a suggested $10 donation. (Tickets must be purchased at the ATC Box Office starting at 11 AM on January 13. Seating is first-come, first served and is not guaranteed. Cash only, please. Two tickets per person maximum.) For discounts on groups of eight or more, call (520) 884-8210 x 8204.
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