CenterStage’s The Raisin Cycle is already getting national media attention, in today’s New York Times and on PBS. An ambitious undertaking by the theater’s artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, it nods to Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun with rotating repertory productions of the Tony-winning Clybourne Park, written by Bruce Norris as a response to Hansberry’s play, and Beneatha’s Place, which Kwei-Armah wrote in response to Clybourne Park.
“I find Clybourne Park to be a brilliant play, all that we want a modern play to be—a magnificent catalyst for a debate,” Kwei-Armah told The Times. “However—and I don’t think Bruce set out to do this— but connotationally, the play says that whites build and blacks destroy.”
The piece praises Kwei-Armah for taking such a bold artistic gamble, noting that it’s possible because his predecessor, Irene Lewis, left the theater on solid financial footing.
As these two productions—which share the same cast and director—have come together, a PBS film crew has been documenting their progress for a documentary that will air in the fall. “A Raisin in the Sun is a powerful story of perseverance that arts followers have come to know and love, and we think our viewers will be just as interested in learning more about the Clybourne Park and Beneatha’s Place storylines,” PBS Vice President of Programming Donald Thoms said in a press release. “PBS is committed to giving millions of viewers a front-row seat and a backstage pass to the best music, theater, dance, art, and cultural history programs on-air and online, and we’re excited that CenterStage will provide us with great content to feature this fall.”
Attracting this sort of media attention is one reason why CenterStage hired Kwei-Armah, who came to town with a national and international rep.
Beneatha's Place opens next Wednesday, and both plays run through June 16th.