British playwright William Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage,” but the people performing the parts are not just acting out roles.
Brenda Wilson, who is starring in “A Raisin in the Sun” — which opens tonight in Rockingham — said being part of the play is having an impact on her.
“It just means so much to be to be a part of, because I think our people are beginning to relax and forget where we came from,” said Wilson. “This play revives this, and it’s helping to transform me inside.”
Wilson, who plays Lena Younger, the mother of the family, is a life long resident of Richmond County. She is no stranger to theater. She loves the idea of making a character on paper come to life. Wilson has had experience in various acting roles since college. She has also written and produced short Christian-based plays in church including: “A Beacon of Hope,” “General Crack Cocaine,” “What’s His Game” and “Stand on your Knees.”
Wilson is enjoying her character, who she said is trying to understand her children, but doing things she tells them not to do.
“She is acting out things she cannot see,” explained Wilson. “We all do that.”
Wilson said the character she plays is the “glue in the family” and “helps keep everyone together,” she said.
“My favorite part is when I am talking to my daughter after she says her brother is not a man. I tell her there is always something left to love. I’m also talking to my son and telling him I am waiting to look up to him when he becomes a man like his father, not realizing what I am saying to him.”
Wilson sees that while some people have hopes, others may be held back by labels. She sees how the play fits into the context of the Civil Rights movement, and said that, having been written in 1959, “ushered in Martin Luther King, Jr.”
“This play is not just about family life,” she said. “When they talk, you can see the whole country.”
Wilson admitted that she didn’t understand the significance of the play when she first saw it. She has heard other people say similar things, that the play seemed like a family talking, nothing more.
“I see this as educational. I’ve been watching with such awe. My mind is opening up with possibilities. It’s nothing but a sermon in art form. Everybody doesn’t learn the same way. We want to help people look at other people as gifts from God. Our purpose to be here is to love each other and help each other. I’m so appreciative to have the privilege to be a part of this,” she said.
Although inspired, Wilson said rehearsal hasn’t been easy.
“It has been the most difficult thing I have done. Shelly is a perfectionist and she demands excellence. At first I was a little hurt by the criticism, but now I know it’s all constructive. I thought, I might as well humble myself and do what she says and I’ve been better as a result of it. I have grown through leaps and bounds just as a result of this play. I think we are so blessed to have Shelly. The caliber of her experience is phenomenal. We need to give her the respect she deserves. I have learned so much from watching her. I think we need to make sure we let her know how much we appreciate her.”
Shelly Walker, the director of Richmond Community Theatre, is excited about her second play in Richmond County. The play opens today at 8 p.m. and tickets are $9. The play runs from Feb. 16-19 and Feb. 23-25. Sunday shows start at 2 p.m.
Wilson said some members of the audience may identify with her character.
“I respect this character so much,” said Wilson. “She was a peace-maker, a woman of God. She taught them to love each other. How we respond to authority says a lot about how our mothers raised us.”
For more information about “A Raisin in the Sun” contact the Richmond Community Theatre at 910-997-3765. The 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 email@example.com.