A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is playing on Park Square Theatre’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage from October 28 to November 20. Here are some Raisin-related facts that you may not have known:
A Raisin in the Sun was originally titled A Crystal Stair, an allusion to a line in the poem “Mother to Son,” when Lorraine Hansberry began writing the play in 1957.
Producers Philip Rose and David Cogan took over a year to raise enough money from 150 investors to mount the original run of A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway in 1959.
Columbia Pictures had hired Lorraine Hansberry to write the screenplay for A Raisin in the Sun. Hansberry ended up writing two screenplays, only to have both rejected as being too controversial by studio executives.
The completed film version of A Raisin in the Sun, which was released in 1961, had cut out over a third of Hansberry’s original screenplay as well as downplayed the Youngers’ poor living conditions. Hansberry’s opening with Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem” superimposed over a montage of scenes in Southside Chicago’s ghetto was one of those cuts; and his poem, in fact, appears nowhere in the film.
Lorraine Hansberry was the godmother to Nina Simone’s daughter Lisa.
The FBI kept a file on Lorraine Hansberry due to her social activism.
A Raisin in the Sun inspired a musical, Raisin, in 1973. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical.
Greta Oglesby, who will play Mama (Lena Younger) in Park Square Theatre’s production, was the understudy for Phylicia Rashad as Mama when A Raisin in the Sun was revived on Broadway in 2004. It was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.
Director Warren C. Bowles considered actor Theo Langason for both the roles of George Murchison and Joseph Asagai–a wealthy young black man and a poor Nigerian college student, respectively–who want to marry Beneatha Younger (Mama’s daughter). Langason was ultimately cast as Asagai.
Greta Oglesby and Theo Langason