A Raisin in the Sun sparks questions about diversity and community
The college of Fine Arts outdid themselves this winter when they chose A Raisin in the Sun as one of their spring semester productions. Partnering with Mosaic, the college of Fine Arts decided it was important for this American classic to be performed at North Central. According to the director, Wayne Matthews, A Raisin in the Sun has been performed on Broadway for over 70 years and over 540 times. The play portrays the struggle of a black family trying to find identity in American society. “The underlying truth in A Raisin in the Sun is that the dream of freedom, equality, and justice belongs to all, no matter the color or race,” Matthew stated.
The play’s opening night, Feb. 19, was packed as students anticipated one of history’s most produced dramas. The cast included NCU students from a variety of majors, including worship leading, music business and communications. Each of them believe in the value and importance of putting on a show like A Raisin in the Sun for the questions it raises about racial diversity in the 1950’s and today.
The play never gave the audience an answer to the moral questions it raised. However, according to Matthews, “This is what makes good drama. The moral question isn’t answered. We get to grapple with right and wrong.”
After the play, the audience was given the opportunity to ask questions about the production and the moral questions surrounding racial discrimination. Professor Desiree Libengood and the play’s production team facilitated the discussion.
During the discussion, the cast had the opportunity to disclose some of the symbolism in the set. They were also able to share their personal feelings about diversity both in the United States and at North Central University.
In response to a question about the play’s impact on North Central University, Matt Allen, Joseph Asagai in the play, said that, “The play is great to educate North Central University on racist issues.” In response to another question, the cast agreed that the best way to start building community around diversity is to begin with awareness.
A Raisin in the Sun attempted to give the community the skills to have conversations about diversity, racism, and stereotypes in a safe environment. As far as cultural plays go, Wayne Matthews stated that his attempt to produce a cultural piece every other year was challenged by Matt Allen, who said that every piece of theater is cultural.
Although the play touched on deep cultural and moral issues and brought some to tears. They agreed that the best part of practicing was watching each other mess up. According to Gordon, though, “A Raisin in the Sun is much more than a play. Sometimes we have ideas about people, but when we sit in front of them, we realize they’re not that different from us.” The actress went on to say that if the audience were to get one thing out of the play it would be to “realize that people are people no matter the color.”