Recently for my African-American drama class I wrote a critical text analysis for A RASIN IN THE SUN, a play that I’ve spent a great deal of time with. It’s a wonderful play Lorraine Hansberry is someone I respect and admire, but for the life of me I could not write this paper. I kept putting it off. I had to ask myself why it was so difficult to write an essay about a play I knew backwards and forward.
Quite frankly I could not bring myself to write yet another essay about racial injustice, and how the black family must overcome it as a unit. I had to ask is A RASIN IN THE SUN outdated? It felt blasphemous, but it had to be asked. The response I come up with was—it can’t be. It can’t be, because those issues still exist.
Gentrification is still an issue for the black community. Hair texture/style is still an issue for the black female. The black male is still disempowered and imprisoned. The black community is still struggling with the concept of the church and religion. These issues are still racking the black community, so why was it difficult to engage in this work? It’s still a question I’m wresting with.
If I were to answer that question, I would have to attach it to the idea that new work needs to be created to talk about issues that pre-exist and remain. When I heard the premise around CLYBOURNE PARK, I became excited. The play spins A RASIN IN THE SUN to speak about pressing issues now. Gentrification during the 1950s in Chicago is transformed into a discussion about present day gentrification and real estate in America. That’s adaption for you. There was a clear need to pick of the torch and find a new way for the classic story of A RASIN IN THE SUN to speak to the present 2012 culture.