'A Raisin in the Sun' continues Ensemble's season
After directing both parts of “Angels in America” last season, Ensemble Executive Artistic Director Celeste Cosentino again takes on an American classic, bringing Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” to the Cleveland Heights theater (2843 Washington Blvd.), Jan. 25 through Feb. 17.
“A Raisin in the Sun” was the first play by an African-American woman to appear on Broadway (1959). The award-winning play is about an African-American family facing racism while trying to find a better life.
When the matriarch of the family, Lena Younger, puts a down payment on a house in a better neighborhood, the family is approached by a man representing the residents of the new neighborhood, who would prefer to keep their neighborhood white. Depicting three generations of the same family, the play explores the value of dreams, the fight against discrimination, and the importance of family.
Cosentino feels connection to the play, as her mother had long championed playwright Hansberry’s work.
“Many years ago my mother created/compiled/adapted an educational touring show called ‘Langston and Lorraine.’ A beautiful tribute to two very influential and groundbreaking writers,” Cosentino said. “I can say that as I reflect on that show and having started to work on producing and directing ‘A Raisin in The Sun’, I feel that I am becoming a part of the rich and storied history of Lorraine Hansberry's masterful play, its themes and its message.”
The mainstage production of “Raisin” will be the centerpiece of Ensemble’s in-season project, “What Happens to a Dream Deferred,” which is supported by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.
The project will feature talkbacks, writing workshops, free play readings, open mics, poetry slams, and other events surrounding the production and inspired by the play.
Cosentino said that having the community be able to participate in different ways is a big component of Ensemble’s mission.
“I hope audiences and participants feel a part of something bigger than themselves, like I do,” she said. “This is a story that needs to be told and told now. So let’s all have a hand in telling it."
The play’s production team and cast will feature Cleveland talent, including Cleveland Heights residents, the Sumlin family. Nicole and Eugene Sumlin have graced Cleveland stages for some time. Their son Eason will also appear in “Raisin,” making it a true family affair.
For tickets, and more information on participating in “What Happens to a Dream Deferred,” visit www.ensembletheatrecle.org, or call 216-321-2930.
Tyler Whidden is a playwright, director, and actor with Ensemble Theatre.