To celebrate Black History Month, the play “Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry will open tomorrow evening at the Richmond Community Theatre in downtown Rockingham.
“A Raisin in the Sun” is still relevant in countless ways,” said Director Shelly Walker in her Director’s Note. “There are multiple themes that still pose problems and questions for our society today: equality for all people — race, culture, gender and socio-economic status, identity/cultural identity; assimiliationism; the blurring of hierarchy and tyranny. How we choose to handle and address these items as individuals and as a society, create the future path which we are traverse together as a whole. On this path we create, is there room enough to accommodate all of us?”
“To star in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ during Black History Month is one of the most significant expressions of pride I could offer to my culture,” said cast-member Kimberly Harrington. “The play itself is black history — by writing it, Lorraine Hansberry became the youngest American playwright at age 29; the first black American and only the fifth woman to earn the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play; and the play went on to become the longest running Broadway play written by an African-American.”
During an interview with the Daily Journal, Harrington discussed what it means to her to be on stage during Black History Month.
“Black History to me means never forgetting from whence we came,” she said. “It means learning from the lessons, struggles, trials and triumphs of yesteryear to forge a trail of excellence toward the future for me and generations to come. Most importantly, it means honoring those who came before me, their struggles, their lives and their sacrifices, by taking advantage of every opportunity to be the best I can be so that their living was not in vain.”
Harrington talked about her role on stage, and parts of the play she likes the most.
“I have several favorite parts in the play,” said Harrington. “I play Beneatha Younger and my favorite as that character is when I disown my brother, so to speak. I get so caught up in those emotions that tears actually well up in my eyes. I am so angry with him for taking away my dream! But overall, my favorite part is when there is the absence of conflict. It is when the family finally believes all is coming together in our lives, all is well with each of us, there is laughter in the house, and our dreams are about to all come true. That is a moment of hope, but it is short-lived.”
The title of the play was taken from the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore — and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and suger over - like syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags, like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”
Harrington referenced the dream, and wonders how the dream has changed.
“This play gives a glimpse of what life was like back then for black families; but to be honest, those same struggles exist today. Dreams are wonderful to have, but it seems like that’s all they are — dreams. They don’t seem to take flight. Many families are confronted with deferred dreams today. Hopefully this play will inspire all of us to work harder to make our dreams come true in spite of our circumstances,” she said.
Harrington has served as director of marketing and public relations for Sandhills Regional Medical Center for five years. She earned bachelor degrees in both Mass Communications and Spanish from Winston-Salem State University. She has worked as a reporter for the Anson Record in Wadesboro; staff writer and news editor for the Richmond County Daily Journal in Rockingham. Harrington has served as a Richmond County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador; is a member of the Richmond County Martin Luther King Celebration Foundation Steering Committee; a member of the Richmond County Human Relations Council; and is a member of the Richmond County Relay for Life Committee. Past plays in other theaters include: “Huckleberry Finn - A Ripple in the River,” and “For Colored Girls Who Consider Suicide When the Rainbow is Not Enuf.”
Richmond Community Theatre will present the classic play by Lorraine Hansberry, “A Raisin in the Sun” on Feb. 16-19 and Feb. 23-26. All shows begin at 8 p.m. except on Sundays, when they begin at 2 p.m. Tickets are $9 each and are on sale now. Call 910-997-3765 for tickets or to make reservations. The Richmond Community Theatre is located at 109 E. Washington St., Rockingham.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.