A suburban Chicago school with an African-American student population of less than three percent put on a performance of "A Raisin In The Sun" last weekend with an all-black cast.
Lyons Township High School in LaGrange staged the story of a poor African-American family on Chicago's South Side who receive a $10,000 insurance settlement and must decide how to spend it, LaGrange Patch reports. It's the second time the school has presented a play with an exclusively black cast, this time with six students from every grade level as well as a 7th grader from nearby Westchester Middle School, the cousin of one of the show's lead actors.
"I've been wanting to do another all-black play for a while. The last was 'Fences' seven years ago," Director Eugene O'Reilly told The Doings LaGrange. "And 'Raisin' is just a classic American piece, one of the top 10 plays of all time in a lot of people’s opinions."
The play, first produced in Chicago in the late 1950s by Lorraine Hansberry, explores obstacles constructed between black families and the American dream during that era, honing in on racial discrimination that prevents the protagonists from using a sudden inheritance to elevate their social status, the New York Times reports.
"Overall, the play is very uplifting," O'Reilly told The Doings. "Its message is family over anything. No matter how tough it gets, stick together, and you'll be fine."
Many of the students are new to the school's theater program, including seniors Kristin Penlton and Aziah Hill, The Doings reports. Hill played two parts after another student had to quit before the Oct 20-22 performances.
"This is my first play. I love it," Hill told The Doings. "I truly enjoy playing two parts. I'll remember that experience for a long time."
The play's title was inspired by a line from the famous Langston Hughes poem, "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?" according to LaGrange Patch.