Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry
It is the birthday of writer Lorraine Hansberry (1930), whose play A Raisin in the Sun (1959) was the first Broadway production written by a black woman, and the first staged on Broadway by a black director, Lloyd Richards. It was nominated for four Tony Awards in 1960. Hansberry received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. A film version (starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee) was released in1961. There followed a musical (1973), a TV movie (1989), a Broadway revival (2004), and another TV movie (2008). The play concerns a Chicago family's efforts to move from poverty to a better life, and is based in part on experiences of Hansberry's family. Hansberry also wrote the Broadway play The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1964), which deals with the themes of race, homosexuality and suicide. She died from pancreatic cancer in 1965 at the age of 34. Actor/singer Paul Robeson gave her eulogy. Her play To Be Young, Gifted and Black was produced Off Broadway in 1968. A book version, To be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words appeared in 1969.

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