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APU Theater: A Raisin in the Sun

by Bethany Pillow '10

“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up—like a raisin in the sun?”
–Langston Hughes

APU Theater posed this question to audiences with its production of A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. The show, which ran February 4–13, featured a ten-member student cast in a dramatic portrayal of the Youngers, an African American family struggling with poverty and prejudice in southern Chicago.

A Raisin in the Sun first opened in 1959 during a crucial period of the African American Civil Rights movement. “The play was groundbreaking not only because it was the first one by an African American woman to run on Broadway, but also it showed white audiences a glimpse of black family life,” said Thomas Parham, Ph.D., director of APU’s rendition of the play. He chose the piece not only for its historical significance, but because the challenging issues and themes it raised are still very applicable for today’s audiences.

“There is this whole theme of doing what’s not accepted if it’s the right thing to do, of acting out against the norm despite what people might think,” Hope Florenzie ’13 said after seeing the show for the first time. “In the play, they acted out against the expectations of society despite the negative things that could come of it, because it was the only way to get what their family needed and wanted.”

Florenzie, like other audience members, was struck by the level of emotions portrayed by the actors and actresses. “I feel like they really got into character, and the feelings and the issues that the play addressed were shown well through their acting skills,” Florenzie said.

A Raisin in the Sun is the fourth of six main stage productions for the 2009–10 season. It is followed closely by the theater’s next major production, the One Act Play Festival—a showcase of short plays directed, designed, and, in some cases, written by senior students. These will be performed March 11–13 and 18–20.