Section 2: The Original Play
American-born actor Sidney Poitier and American playwright Lorraine Hansberry (1930 - 1965), along with others, stand around a piano at a party in honor of Hansberry's Broadway play A Raisin in the Sun, New York, New York, March 1959.
Two years later, around the end of the play's hugely successful Broadway run, the original cast starred in a movie version. It too was successful, with Golden Globe nominations for Sidney Poitier and Claudia McNeil
A Raisin in the Sun debuted on Broadway in 1959, but not without a struggle. The play's almost all-black cast made it a risky investment in pre-Civil Rights America, and it took more than a year for producers to raise enough money to begin. Even as the curtain rose on opening night, Hansberry was pessimistic, expecting bad reviews. But her powerful writing shone through, and the play was named the best play of the year by the New York Drama Critics' Circle, was nominated for four Tony Awards, and became a classic of American theater. A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by an African American woman, and it was the first play directed by an African American man. It was also the longest-running African American play on broadway..
Times have changed greatly since Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun. But her play remains a classic, with its themes of dreams and struggle, family and the home, still resonating today.