Chicago has shaped the American theatrical landscape, thanks to a wide-range of artists who have called our city home. Among the most iconic theater artists is undoubtedly Lorraine Hansberry, with her Chicago-set A Raisin in the Sun a staple at theaters across the world since its 1959 Broadway debut. Earlier this year, in partnership with the DuSable Museum, the Goodman once again paid tribute to the late influential artist.
Two years ago, during the Goodman’s revival of The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, one of Hansberry’s less frequently produced plays, director Tracy Heather Strain was finishing production on Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, her documentary film. Released this year as the opener for season 32 of PBS’ American Masters, the Goodman partnered with the network to provide community programming connected with Hansberry’s life and works—including screenings at DuSable and the Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement. The 1961 film adaptation of Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, featuring Sidney Poitier, was also presented in the Alice Center, as well as a staged reading of Hansberry’s 1970 play, Les Blancs, directed by Lili-Anne Brown and produced by Goodman Community Engagement Coordinator Ian Martin.
In addition, Goodman Resident Artistic Associate Henry Godinez led two masterclasses for students at Chicago State University, a frequent partner of the Goodman. Students explored Hansberry’s work, collaborated with Godinez on ensemble building and participated in kinesthetic response exercises. CSU students later performed a staged reading of A Raisin in the Sun. Scenes from both the 1961 and 2008 film adaptations of A Raisin in the Sun were compared in a panel discussion featuring the Goodman’s Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor, faculty members from the university’s Communication, Media Arts and Theatre department and African American Studies professors, Drs. Kelly Harris and Kimberly Dulaney. The strong turnout of audience and community members at these events reaffirmed Hansberry’s importance and legacy in the performing and literary arts.
To view Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, visit PBS.org. For more information about Education and Engagement programming, visit GoodmanTheatre.org/Engage-Learn.