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A Raisin in the Sun

By Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Tazewell Thompson

March 31 — May 7, 2017
Fichandler Stage

Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking masterpiece follows the Younger family yearning for a better life far from the cramped confines of their Chicago tenement. Hope arrives in the form of an unexpected financial windfall, but when they realize they have differing definitions of the American dream, which dreams get realized and which deferred? A Raisin in the Sun paints the African-American experience in brilliant and powerful strokes, as vibrant and vital today as they were in 1959.

A Raisin in the Sun is generously sponsored by .
Additional support is provided by and Sheila Stampfli.

Cast

WILL COBBS (Walter Lee Younger) makes his Arena Stage debut. His most recent theater credits include Safe House (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), When I Come to Die (Kansas City Repertory) and Autumn’s Harvest (Lincoln Center). He has also appeared on Elementary, Madam Secretary, Army Wives, The Goodwife, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Night Of.

JEREMIAH HASTY (Travis Younger) is excited to make his Arena Stage debut. Previous credits include Caroline, or Change (Creative Caldron) and Uprising (MetroStage). Film credits include The Trenches. He has also been featured in several print projects, PSAs for Poison Control Center of America, USDA training videos and on The National Harbor website. Jeremiah is a 5th grade student at St. Ambrose in Cheverly and is currently on the Honor Roll.

JOY JONES (Beneatha Younger) returns to Arena Stage after appearing in Mary T. & Lizzy K. Off-Broadway credits include workshops at the Lincoln Center Festival, The Public, Playwrights Horizons and Rattlestick. Internationally, Joy performed in Tantalus (Royal Shakespeare Company). D.C.-area credits include The Hard Problem, Cloud Nine, Belleville and Invisible Man (Studio Theatre), The Call (Theater J) and Agnes Under the Big Top (Forum Theatre). Select regional credits include Invisible Man (Huntington Theatre Company), Ruined and Tantalus (Denver Center) and Young Lady from Rwanda and Pericles (PlayMakers Repertory). Film/TV credits include Tantalus: Behind the Mask and The Broken Continent. Joy received her M.F.A. in acting from UNC-Chapel Hill and received a 2013 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Ensemble for Invisible Man at Studio Theatre. Twitter: @JoyJonesTweets. www.thejoyjones.com

MACK LEAMON (Bobo) is thrilled to make his Arena Stage debut. Recent D.C.-area theater credits include Radio Golf (Hard Bargain Players); Coming Home, Stick Fly and Blues for an Alabama Sky (Port City Playhouse); A Raisin in the Sun (Castaways Repertory Theater); and The Big A: Scenes from a Vanishing Landscape (Macomb Theater Company). Mack is a proud graduate of Lincoln University.

LIZAN MITCHELL (Lena Younger)’s Broadway credits include Electra, Having Our Say and So Long on Lonely Street. Off-Broadway credits include The First Noel, Brownsville Song, Cell, The Hurricane Katrina Comedy Festival, Rosmersholm, For Colored Girls, Gum, Salt and Ma Rose. Regional credits include The Good Peaches (Cleveland Play House), The House That Will Not Stand (Yale Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Victory Gardens), An Issue of Blood (Victory Gardens), Dead and Breathing (CATF), The Last Fall (Crossroads Theater), Having Our Say (McCarter), Fabulation (Center Stage) and Woolly Mammoth, Pittsburgh Public Theater, TheaterWorks, Goodman, Proposition Theatre, San Jose Repertory, Crossroads Theatre and the Humana Festival. Film/TV credits include Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Deadbeat, We’ll Never Have Paris, Golden Boy, John Adams (HBO), The Good Wife, Law & Order, The Human Stain, The Preacher’s Wife, Sesame Street and The Wire.

THOMAS ADRIAN SIMPSON (Karl Lindner)’s Arena Stage credits include Carousel, Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof, Mary T. & Lizzy K., My Fair Lady and The Light in the Piazza, among others. D.C. credits include The Threepenny Opera and Company (Signature Theatre); Orphie and the Book of Heroes (Kennedy Center); 1776 and Liberty Smith (Ford’s Theatre); and Candide and The Boys from Syracuse (Shakespeare Theatre Company). Regional credits include Candide (Goodman); Quixote in Man of La Mancha (Wayside Theatre); 9 to 5 with Sally Struthers and Les Misérables (Riverside Center); and Outside Mullingar (New Mexico’s Fusion Theatre). Tom is a graduate of the U.N.C. School of the Arts.

KEITH L. ROYAL SMITH (George Murchison) makes his Arena Stage debut. Past D.C. productions include Hooded: Or Being Black for Dummies (world premiere, Mosaic Theater Company). New York credits include 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today (Billie Holiday Theater); Political Snorts and Powerful Beyond Measure (La MaMa); and Take Me Out and Fuente Ovejuna (Abe Burrows Theatre). Regional credits include Richard III and The Comedy of Errors (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Ruined and Under the Skin (Everyman Theatre); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Fabrefaction Theater Company); and Othello (Eubie Blake Cultural Center). Film/TV credits include Nehemiah (co-produced by Spike Lee), Landelions, Sampling and commercials. He graduated from New York University, University of the Witwatersrand and Baltimore School for the Arts. Keith sends love and thanks to the entire village.

DAWN URSULA (Ruth Younger) is thrilled to return to Arena Stage after performing in Love in Afghanistan. Select D.C. credits include Dot (Everyman Theatre, resident company member), Zombie: The American (Woolly Mammoth, resident company member) and the Angel in Angels in America I & II (Round House). She has been nominated for and received Baltimore City Paper and Helen Hayes Awards. TV/film credits include The Wire and Veep (HBO) and Prince Among Slaves (PBS). She has an M.F.A. from The Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University and a B.A. from The University of Virginia. Private Coach Vera Katz. www.dawnursula.com

BUEKA UWEMEDIMO (Joseph Asagai) makes his Arena Stage debut. He is a British actor originally from Lagos, Nigeria. At the age of six, his family relocated to London, England where he discovered his passion for performing arts. His previous credits include King Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King (West End). Bueka has also performed at the prestigious Royal Ascots for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her guests. Since relocating to D.C., Bueka has been featured on several nationally recognized TV commercials and was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for his spirited performance as Ray Heffernon in 1st Stage’s award-winning show, The Good Counselor. www.BuekaUwemedimo.com

EMMANUEL EPONGO JR. (Travis Younger u/s) makes his Arena Stage debut. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his parents and attends Westland Middle School. Emmanuel has been acting since the second grade. He performed in the African play Shaker Zulu and Master Gideon Quest at the American International School in South Africa. During his time at RCF Elementary School, Emmanuel participated in a school play organized to honor elders in the community. Last December, he performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Emmanuel also loves to dance and play sports.

BRIT HERRING (Karl Lindner replacement) has appeared Off-Broadway in Shel Silverstein’s The Devil and Billy Markham (SoHo Playhouse) and In Paradise (The Lion Theatre/Theater Row). Most recently, Brit appeared in Everyman Theatre’s production of Great Expectations, directed by Tazewell Thompson. Regional credits include Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Guthrie, the Kennedy Center, Washington Stage Guild, Infinity Theatre Company, Annapolis Shakespeare and many others. Brit received his M.F.A. from Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University. He works as a voice over artist with The National Library Service for the Blind and Handicapped. www.britherring.com

VALEKA J. HOLT (Ruth Younger u/s & replacement) is thrilled to make her Arena Stage debut! Off-Broadway credits include Church (The Public). D.C.-area credits include Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2, & 3 (Round House); Sunset Baby (Rep Stage, DC Metro Theater Arts Award winner for Best Actress); As You Like It (Shakespeare Theatre Company); and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Annapolis Shakespeare Company, Maryland Theatre Guide nomination for Best Supporting Actress). Regional credits include Love’s Labour’s Lost (Penthouse Theatre) and In the Continuum and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Meany Studio). Film credits include The Runaways and For Entertainment Purposes Only. Valeka has her M.F.A. in acting from The University of Washington. She is the owner of V Studios, a boutique Acting Conservatory. Instagram and Facebook: @valekajholt and @thevstudios. www.vstudios.simplybook.me

Creative

LORRAINE HANSBERRY (Playwright) became the youngest American playwright, fifth woman and only African-American to date to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play when A Raisin in the Sun appeared on Broadway in 1959. In its authentic depiction of Black American life, the play made it impossible for the American stage to ignore African-American creativity and subject matter thereafter. In 1961, the film version received a special award at the Cannes Film Festival and a Screen Writer’s Guild Award nomination. In 1965, Lorraine died of cancer at age 34. Her second Broadway play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, was in its early run when Hansberry died; the curtain came down on that date. To Be Young, Gifted and Black, an autobiographical portrait adapted by her former husband and literary executor Robert Nemiroff, was posthumously produced in 1969 and toured across the country. In 1970, her play Les Blancs ran on Broadway to critical acclaim.

TAZEWELL THOMPSON (Director) is an international opera and theater director, playwright and teacher. Opera productions in Madrid, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Cape Town, Vancouver, San Francisco, D.C., Los Angeles, Detroit and NY. Since 1988, he has directed 18 productions at Arena Stage, including Caucasian Chalk Circle, M. Butterfly, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Yellowman, Playboy of the West Indies and The Glass Menagerie, and more than 75 productions in theaters across the country. His production of Porgy and Bess was broadcast live from Lincoln Center (Emmy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Classical Production). His award-winning play Constant Star received 14 national productions. His play Mary T. & Lizzy K., commissioned by Arena Stage, is the recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. He will next direct Handel’s Xerxes (Glimmerglass Festival) and has been commissioned to write the libretto for a new opera for Glimmerglass with composer Jeanine Tesori.

DONALD EASTMAN (Set Designer)’s Arena Stage designs include My Fair Lady, directed by Molly Smith, and numerous productions with director Tazewell Thompson, including Mary T. & Lizzy K., Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Constant Star and M. Butterfly. His work has been seen on Broadway, Off-Broadway and at regional theaters including American Conservatory Theater, Arden Theatre Company, Goodman, The Guthrie, Kansas City Repertory and Seattle Repertory. Opera theater credits include BAM Next Wave Festival, Lincoln Center Festival, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera and the premiere of Appomattox by Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton for Washington National Opera. Donald studied at CalArts and the Yale School of Drama, and is a grantee of the NEA/National Opera Institute. His numerous awards include an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Design.

HARRY NADAL (Costume Designer) makes his Arena Stage debut with A Raisin in the Sun. New York credits include Brooklyn Academy of Music, Atlantic Theater Company, Lincoln Center, Ensemble International Theater, INTAR Theatre, Labyrinth Theater Company, The Juilliard School, HERE Arts Center, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, HOME for Contemporary Theatre and Art, Pregones Theater, Spectrum Stage, The Spanish Repertory Theater, Theater for the New City, Teatro Circulo and The Miranda Theater. Regional credits include TheaterWorks, UrbanArias, Boise Contemporary Theater, Open Stage and Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. International credits include Danza del Alma (Cuba), Le Groupe Zorongo (France), Teatro Nacional (Dominican Republic), Ballets de San Juan (Puerto Rico) and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland). M.F.A. from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. www.harrynadal.com

ROBERT WIERZEL (Lighting Designer) has worked with artists from diverse disciplines and backgrounds in theater, dance, contemporary music, museums and opera on stages throughout the country and abroad. He has designed at most major regional theaters across the country including Hartford Stage, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, The Guthrie, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Goodman and American Conservatory Theater, among many others. Broadway productions include Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill starring Audra McDonald, FELA! (Tony Award nomination) and David Copperfield’s debut in Dreams and Nightmares. Robert has designed with opera companies in New York, Paris, Tokyo, Norway, Toronto, Boston, Seattle, San Diego, Houston, Dallas, Washington D.C., Virginia, Florida, Atlanta and Chicago, as well as numerous productions with Glimmerglass. His dance work includes 31 years with Bill T. Jones and the BTJ/AZ Company.

FABIAN OBISPO (Original Composition & Sound Designer) returns to Arena Stage where his credits include Mary T. & Lizzy K., Caucasian Chalk Circle, M. Butterfly, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Agamemnon and His Daughters (Helen Hayes nomination), Constant Star, Yerma, Yellowman, On the Verge, Black No More, Heidi’s Chronicle and Black Starline. Additional D.C.-area credits include The Comedy of Errors, Henry V and Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare Theatre Company) and Romeo and Juliet (Folger Theatre). He has composed and sound designed extensively for Off-Broadway and regional theaters. Musical composition credits include Long Season (Perseverance Theatre), Dear (Syracuse Stage) and Yellow Moon Rising (New York University). His musical Felix Starro, commissioned by American Conservatory Theater, will receive its world premiere in New York in 2018.

ANNE NESMITH (Wig Designer) returns to Arena Stage, where her design credits include Watch on the Rhine, Carousel, The Little Foxes, All the Way, Oliver!, Destiny of Desire, Fiddler on the Roof, Mother Courage and Her Children and The Music Man. Her recent work includes Titanic (Signature Theatre), La Boheme and L’Opera Seria (Wolf Trap), Cosi fan tutte (Nishinomiya, Japan) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Ford’s Theatre). Her designs have been seen at the Kennedy Center, Opera Philadelphia, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington Ballet and Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan. Anne was the resident wig/makeup designer for the Baltimore Opera and has created wigs for Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery programs, Investigation Discovery’s Ice Cold Killers, Maryland Public Television and the U.S. Army’s tour Spirit of America.

GARY LOGAN (Dialect Coach) is the former director of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting, and currently the associate professor of speech and dialects for Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. He is also the author of The Eloquent Shakespeare (University of Chicago Press). Gary has been the voice, text and dialect coach for nearly 150 professional productions nationally and internationally, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and Canada’s Stratford Festival. Regionally, Gary’s credits include multiple productions at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, the Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Folger Theatre and Arena Stage. Nationally, he has worked several seasons for the Chautauqua Theatre Company and Denver Center Theatre Company. Gary has an M.F.A. in acting from A.C.T. in San Francisco.

CHRISTI B. SPANN (Stage Manager) returns to Arena after serving as stage manager for The Little Foxes, Love in Afghanistan and assistant stage manager on Smokey Joe’s Café, Good People, My Fair Lady, You, Nero and Ah, Wilderness! Other D.C. credits include The Bard’s Broadway and Merry Wives of Windsor (Shakespeare Theatre Company). Christi spent 12 seasons on the stage management staff at the Denver Center Theatre Company, four summer seasons with The Great River Shakespeare Festival and is currently working with Virginia Repertory Theatre in Richmond, VA.

MARNE ANDERSON (Assistant Stage Manager)’s Arena Stage credits include Roe, Moby Dick, All the Way, Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, King Hedley II, Five Guys Named Moe, Mother Courage and Her Children, The Mountaintop, Metamorphoses, The Arabian Nights and Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies. Additional D.C. credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Folger Theatre); Angels in America: Parts 1 and 2 (Round House); and You for Me for You and Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play (Woolly Mammoth). She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. She is thankful to her family for all their love and support.

Events

Post-Show Discussions
April 12 at 12:00 p.m.
April 18 at 12:00 p.m.
April 18 at 7:30 p.m.*
April 25 at 12:00 p.m.
April 26 at 12:00 p.m.
April 27 at 8:00 p.m.
May 2 at 12:00 p.m.

*This conversation will be moderated by Soyica Colbert, production dramaturg and Associate Professor of African American Studies and Theater and Performance Studies at Georgetown University.

Accessibility

Audio Described

Saturday, April 29 at 2:00 p.m.

Open Captioned

Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 20 at 8:00 p.m.

A Raisin in the Sun illustration by Charles Chaisson.