Richmond Community Theatre’s second play of the season “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry is opening back up tonight at 8 p.m. for round two of a play that is drawing people from across state lines.
According to actor Bruce Stanback, who is playing Walter Lee Younger, friends of his came from Pittsburgh, Pa., Connecticut, Charlotte and Mt. Gilead to see him on stage. He is a veteran actor and has been performing in plays since high school.
Stanback’s character is the son of deceased Walter Younger, and he hopes to spend the insurance money the family received on opening a liquor store.
“Walter goes through so many emotions,” said Stanback. “He wants so many things. He sees an opportunity with the insurance money and wants to take advantage of it; not so much for himself, I think, but more for his son. It’s a very emotional role. It gets to me at times, actually. Even during rehearsal I’ve had to step back and say, wow, that was serious.”
Stanback feels that, during Black History Month, “A Raisin in the Sun” provides a chance for reflection.
“This is a story about a black family. Today, this could relate to any family. I think also that it’s important during Black History Month to talk about the history. History books don’t include the contributions of African Americans. If we don’t teach it, there’s a whole generation that doesn’t know about it. If not, we lose the meaning.
“My hope is that the black community will be just like any other. I hope they reach their educational goals, where it gets to be where race doesn’t matter. You can’t stop (moving forward). You gotta look back and reach back to move forward.”
Stanback’s favorite part in the play is when he has to tell the family that he lost the chance to open the liquor store.
“There is so much emotion there,” said Stanback.
He is enjoying working with the cast as well.
“The cast is great,” said Stanback. “I pull from each cast member. Sometimes it’s like I’m not on stage — it’s so real. Each night, everybody tries to give their best.”
“Bruce is no stranger to community theater,” said Kimberly Harrington, cast member. “He is a natural actor, an innate performer. Because he is a veteran on stage, he has offered us many helpful acting tips and constructive advice. He is fun to watch and it was intriguing to see him transform into the role of Walter Lee. The more he got into his role, the more he wowed us. At one poignant point in the play, the director really didn’t give him any direction. She just wanted him to do what came naturally. He did — and it stuck.”
Stanback said he has heard that about half the people coming out to see the play have either not been to the theater in a long time, or are going for their first time.
Stanback made the point that the play hits home so well because the events are based on things that happened to Hansberry. Hansberry’s family moved into an all-white neighborhood and received the rejection she portrays in the play. Stanback said he can remember what growing up in the ’60s was like, and he could relate to Hansberry because he remembers situations in which he was not welcome.
Tickets for “A Raisin in the Sun” are $9 and can be purchased at the box office on East Washington Street in Rockingham. The play opens tonight at 8 p.m. and plays until Saturday. For more information contact the Richmond Community Theatre at 910-997-3765.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.