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Variety

The Howard Players Revive Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ 

Photo Courtesy of Everett Judd; L:R: Daniella Ochman , Rickey Devon Hall, and Jazmyn Ja’Net are pictured. 

Howard University’s oldest student-run performing arts organization, The Howard Players, took the stage to present the formidable “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry. This was the first time the renowned play had been reenacted on Howard’s campus since 1986. 

On the weekend of Feb. 23, the special performance took place at The Chadwick Boseman School of Fine Arts. The play tells the story of a Black family from the southside of Chicago who’s in pursuit of financial freedom after an insurance payout following the death of their father. While highlighting the children of The Great Migration, “A Raisin in the Sun” does a tremendous job illustrating the societal issues of housing discrimination, racism and assimilation that the African American community had to face in the 1950s. The play also featured a female playwright and majority female board. 

Zora Allison, a junior acting major and President of Howard Players, discussed the decision to revive “A Raisin in the Sun” at Howard and what drew her inspiration to do so since the play had not been performed since 1986.

“When looking at shows to do for the upcoming season I really wanted to do something that had a lot of significance, not just for The Howard Players, but for the pantheon of Black theater,” Allison said. “‘A Raisin in the Sun’ was performed by The Howard Players in the 1960s, but hadn’t been done since 1986. That was really intriguing to me. I wanted to bring the show back to Howard and have a female playwright and majority female board.” 

The Howard Players’ decision to stage “A Raisin in the Sun” for the first time in over three decades caused some cast members to feel anxious about their ability to do the play justice to Lorraine Hansberry’s masterpiece.

Tymetrias Bolden, a junior theater arts major who played Benethea in the play, dealt with a lot of nerves during the play. She also mentioned the need to constantly encourage herself often to cope with those nerves. 

“Nervous is an understatement. Even sometimes while performing I get nervous, but this was the first play where I was having fun and telling myself I’m just sharing what I can to the world,” Tymetrias said. “I’d wake up in the morning to say some affirmations reminding myself I’m here for a reason.” 

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The audience’s response to “A Raisin in the Sun” resulted with a standing ovation, a testament to how effectively the Howard Players brought to life the beauty of the struggle towards the American dream. Through their impeccable acting and skillful expression, the actors captured the true essence of Black theater and engaged the audience in a powerful performance. 

Alima Fatou, a junior Biology major at Howard University, expressed her thoughts on the play and reflected on her favorite moments.

“I thought it was absolutely amazing. I read the play in high school and I feel like everyone executed their role perfectly,” Alima said. “ My favorite part was when Walker found out that Willy stole the money. I feel like it got really emotional and I actually started crying. You could feel the emotion in the room.”   

The Howard Players is a non-profit organization at Howard University whose mission is to prepare the next generation of performing arts students while emphasizing activism through art. The student actors of the play include Ricky Devon Hall, Jazmin Ja’Net, Daniella Ochman, Tymetrias Bolden, James McClam, Jacques Jean-Mar, Matthew Margerum, Parris Johnson, Ezra Morrow, Kameron Outland and Folajinimi Awofeso.

Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee

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