Life and Work of Lorraine Hansberry Comes to ITC Stage Adapted by Robert Nemiroff
Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The brilliant career and tragically short life of Chicago-born writer Lorraine Hansberry comes to the Illinois Theatre Center stage in “TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK – A Portrait of Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words”. The production opens Friday, January 30 and runs through Sunday, February 15 at the theatre in Park Forest .
A multi-ethnic cast of seven actors recreate Hansberry’s life through excerpts from her plays, journals, essays, poems and speeches. No one actress portrays Hansberry. Instead, all the women in the play take turns depicting the writer at different stages of her life.
Lorraine Hansberry was born in 1930 in the Woodlawn neighborhood OF THE South Side of Chicago. Her family later moved into a white neighborhood, where they faced racial discrimination. Lorraine attended a predominantly white public school while her parents fought against segregation. The legal struggle over their move led to the landmark Supreme Court case of Hansberry v. Lee (1940). Though victors in the Supreme Court, the family was subjected to what Lorraine would later describe as a “hellishly hostile white neighborhood.” This experience later inspired her to write her most famous work, A RAISIN IN THE SUN.
Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin , but found college to be uninspiring and left in 1950 to pursue her career as a writer in New York . She worked on the staff of a Black newspaper called Freedom. It was at that time she wrote A RAISIN IN THE SUN. It was the first play written by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway. It received the N.Y. Drama Critics Award, making Hansberry the first Black writer to receive the Award.
Lorraine Hansberry died on January 12, 1965, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 34. Her second play, THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEIN’S WINDOW opened on Broadway in 1964 and closed the night she died. Her ex-husband Robert Nemiroff became her literary executor. He adapted her writings into the play TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK, presented Off Broadway in 1969. He published her unproduced plays, LES BLANCS, THE DRINKING GOURD and WHAT USE ARE FLOWERS, in 1972.
The cast for TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK includes ITC newcomers Richon May, Kelvin Roston, Jr., Angelique Westerfield, and CorVet Williams, along with veterans Christopher Kudlacz, Sarah Pitard, and Judy Rossignuolo-Rice. The production is directed by Etel Billig.
The production runs January 30 through February 15. Performances are Wednesday though Saturday evenings at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 PM. Tickets are priced at $21 on Friday and Saturday, $19 at all other times. There is a $1 discount for students and seniors. The Illinois Theatre Center is located in Downtown Park Forest at 371 Artists’ Walk (off Indianwood Blvd. , adjacent to Village Hall). For tickets, call (708) 481-3510.
January 30 to February 15, 2009
located at 371 Artists Walk
Park Forest, IL 60466