Critical Context (Comprehensive Guide to Drama)
Lorraine Hansberry was very fortunate: Her first major full-length play, A Raisin in the Sun, not only was produced on Broadway but also was a smashing success. Hansberry’s portrait of an average black family, its sorrows and struggles, is a mainstream play, in that it avoids rage and denunciations. It is a down-to-earth presentation of the everyday problems of a black family. As such, it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for the 1958-1959 season. As a result of this success, Hansberry was commissioned by NBC to write a play as part of a television series planned in honor of the Civil War centennial. The result was The Drinking Gourd (1960, pb. 1972), a realistic portrayal of blacks in the Civil War period. Despite the praise of the producer, the play was not presented, because the series was canceled. Nevertheless, the play was an expression of Hansberry’s growing interest in her black roots.
Her second Broadway play was to be the last produced in her lifetime (Hansberry died in 1965). The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (1964) was greeted with mixed reviews. Its...
(The entire section is 363 words.)