Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun Debuts on Broadway (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun became one of the first plays written by an African-American woman to achieve artistic and commercial success.
Summary of Event
On March 11, 1959, after playing in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Haven, Connecticut, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City. The play instantly met with rave reviews from both black and white critics and became a quick financial success. It ran for 530 performances, setting a new record for the longest-running Broadway play written by a black American. It was also the first play written by a black woman to be performed on Broadway.
A Raisin in the Sun won the prestigious New York Drama Critics Circle Award for the year’s best play over Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth, Eugene O’Neill’s A Touch of the Poet, and Archibald MacLeish’s J. B. At age twenty-eight, Hansberry was the youngest playwright to receive the award. A Raisin in the Sun was also instrumental in furthering the careers of the play’s actors and its director, Lloyd Richards. Moreover, the play’s commercial success enabled other black playwrights to get their work produced and gave Hansberry a visibility that made her an important voice in the theater. She spoke and wrote prolifically about theater and the arts, society and...
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