Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun
Originally uploaded by barbfecteau.
When I first picked this up, I was surprised at the length. It is a very short book. And since it is a play it reads very quickly. But there is a lot in it. This book made me laugh out loud. It made me cry. There is a scene where a father tells his son the dreams he has for his family that made me close the book and walk away because it hurt too much to think of how far away those dreams are compared to the family's present circumstances.

The book reminded me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in several way. The fathers in both turn to alcohol at some point to dull the pain of a life that is stifling. However, where the father in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn gives in to despair completely, the reader has higher hopes for Walter Lee Younger. There is also the matter of race which rears its head forcefully in A Raisin in the Sun and is barely touched upon in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

One warning, the edition of A Raisin in the Sun that I read had a very interesting introduction by Robert Nemiroff, the husband of the playwright Lorraine Hansberry. Reading it before reading the play was very confusing so I basically skimmed it. Reading it after having read the play was much more enlightening. I would suggest you don’t bother to read anything before you read the play but rather just read it and let it take you by surprise. Than afterwards, when you read about its effect on audiences, you will understand why.

I am not much of one for reading plays, but there are a few I have enjoyed in print that I haven't seen performed. Tom Stoppard's Arcadia is really brilliant. I also loved his Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Angels in America by Tony Kushner was a play that moved me more than any other that I have read. There is some guy called Shakespeare who has written some plays people seem to like, but I am reserving judgment.

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