When it was first produced in 1959, 'A Raisin in the Sun' was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for that season and hailed as a watershed in American drama. A pioneering work by an African-American playwright, the play was a radically new representation of black life.
"A beautiful, lovable play. It is affectionately human, funny and touching. . . . A work of theatrical magic in which the usual barrier between audience and stage disappears."
John Chapman, New York News
"An honest, intelligible, and moving experience."
Walter Kerr, New York Herald Tribune
"Miss Hansberry has etched her characters with understanding, and told her story with dramatic impact. She has a keen sense of humor, an ear for accurate speech and compassion for people."
Robert Coleman, New York Mirror
"A Raisin in the Sun has vigor as well as veracity."
Brooks Atkinson, New York Times
"It is honest drama, catching up real people. . . . It will make you proud of human beings."
Frank Aston, New York World-Telegram & Sun
"A wonderfully emotional evening."
John McClain, New York Journal American
When it was first produced in 1959, A Raisin in the Sun was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for that season and hailed as a watershed in American drama. A pioneering work by an African-American playwright, the play was a radically new representation of black life. "A play that changed American theater forever."--The New York Times.
Auszüge aus dem Buch
by Robert Nerniroff
This is the most complete edition of A Raisin in the Sun ever published. Like the American Playhouse production for television, it restores to the play two scenes unknown to the general public, and a number of other key scenes and passages staged for the first time in twenty-fifth anniversary revivals and, most notably, the Roundabout Theatre's Kennedy Center production on which the television picture is based.
"The events of every passing year add resonance to A Raisin in the Sun. It is as if history is conspiring to make the play a classic"; ". . . one of a handful of great American dramas ... A Raisin in the Sun belongs in the inner circle, along with Death of a Salesman, Long Day's Journey into Night, and The Glass Menagerie." So wrote The New York Times and the Washington Post respectively of Harold Scott's revelatory stagings for the Roundabout in which most of these elements, cut on Broadway, were restored. The unprecedented resurgence of the work (a dozen regional revivals at this writing, new publications and productions abroad, and now the television production that will be seen by millions) prompts the new edition.
Produced in 1959, the play presaged the revolution in black and women's consciousness-and the revolutionary ferment in Africa-that exploded in the years following the playwright's death in 1965 to ineradicably alter the social fabric and consciousness of the nation and the world. As so many have commented lately, it did so in a manner and to an extent that few could have foreseen, for not only the restored material, but much else that passed unnoticed in the play at the time, speaks to issues that are now inescapable: value systems of the black family; concepts of African American beauty and identity; class and generational conflicts; the relationships of husbands and wives, black men and women; the outspoken (if then yet unnamed) feminism of the daughter; and, in the penultimate scene between Beneatha and Asagai, the larger statement of the play and the ongoing struggle it portends.
Not one of the cuts, it should be emphasized, was made to dilute or censor the play or to "soften" its statement, for everyone in that herculean, now-legendary band that brought Raisin to Broadway-and most specifically the producer, Philip Rose, and director, Lloyd Richards-believed in the importance of that statement with a degree of commitment that would have countenanced nothing of the kind. How and why, then, did the cuts come about?
The scene in which Beneatha unveils her natural haircut is an interesting example. In 1959, when the play was presented, the rich variety of Afro styles introduced in the mid-sixties had not yet arrived: the very few black women who wore their hair unstraightened cut it very short. When the hair of Diana Sands (who created the role) was cropped in this fashion, however, a few days before the opening, it was not contoured to suit her: her particular facial structure required a fuller Afro, of the sort she in fact adopted in later years. Result? Rather than vitiate the playwright's point-the beauty of black hair-the scene was dropped.
Some cuts were similarly the result of happenstance or unpredictables of the kind that occur in any production: difficulties with a scene, the "processes" of actors, the dynamics of staging, etc. But most were related to the length of the play: running time. Time in the context of bringing to Broadway the first play by a black (young and unknown) woman, to be directed, moreover, by another unknown black "first," in a theater where black audiences virtually did not exist-and where, in the entire history of the American stage, there had never been a serious commercially successful black drama!
So unlikely did the prospects seem in that day, in fact, to all but Phil Rose and the company, that much as some expressed admiratio
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