An Eclipse Theatre Company, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Sheffield Theatres co-production.
A Raisin in the Sun
Injustice, inequality and a housing crisis lead to family tension in Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark play, revived by the UK’s leading Black-led national touring company
Written by Lorraine Hansberry | Directed by Dawn Walton
UK tour 28th Jan – 26th March 2016
Press Night: 1st February 2016, The Crucible, Sheffield
“One of the UK’s foremost black-led theatre companies.” Guardian
Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking play, the first on Broadway written by a Black woman, is to tour the UK in a new production directed by Eclipse Theatre’s Dawn Walton. This intense family drama, written on the cusp of the civil rights era, sees the Younger family await the arrival of a cheque for a life changing $10,000. Driven to conflict as they encounter issues of inequality, housing and lack of opportunity that continue to resonate today, the play acts as a stark warning to anyone who measures happiness and personal worth in capital gain.
This brand new production will star Ashley Zhangazha as Walter, in one of the great roles of American theatre. Widely regarded as one to watch following performances in Henry V for the Michael Grandage Company and alongside Lenny Henry in Fences in the West End, Ashley won the 2013 Ian Charleson Award for his performance in Macbeth at the Sheffield Crucible. He will be joined by Llewella Gideon as Mama, whose recent theatre includes Play Mas at the Orange Tree and Birthday (with Stephen Mangan) at the Royal Court, but also well-known to audiences for her many roles in TV comedies including Nighty Night, Absolutely Fabulous and The Real McCoy.
Following its debut on Broadway in 1959, Lorraine Hansberry adapted her play into a critically-acclaimed film starring Sidney Poitier as Walter. Testament to its continuing power and relevance, A Raisin in the Sun has been revived numerous times in the intervening years and Walter has been portrayed on stage by actors including Denzel Washington and Danny Glover.
Speaking about the production, Eclipse Artistic Director Dawn Walton said “A Raisin in the Sun is the type of play I love – one with a domestic setting, universal themes and big emotions. Lorraine Hansberry was a visionary and a playwright I always introduce writers to – most recently our ‘Revolution Mix’ writers. Like all great playwrights Hansberry allows her characters to speak the truth in a way that transcends time and place. I am really excited to work with Ashley and Llewella on this exceptional play.”
The inspiration for Nina Simone’s much-loved song ‘Young, Gifted and Black’, Lorraine Hansberry won the New York Drama Critics’ Best Play of the Year Award at just 29 years old, becoming the first Black woman to do so. Before her untimely death at the age of just 34, Hansberry was a keen activist, applauded by many as an inspirational figure. Alongside the National Theatre’s forthcoming production of Les Blancs, the revival provides a timely re-evaluation of Lorraine Hansberry’s work as one of the most significant American playwrights of the period.
Artistic Director Dawn Walton began her directing career at the Royal Court Theatre and was awarded the first Jerwood Young Director’s Award at the Young Vic. After a year as Acting Head of Studio at the National Theatre, Dawn formed Eclipse Theatre Company in 2010. Her previous work for Eclipse includes One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show and The Hounding of David Oluwale for which she was nominated for a TMA award for Best Director. Dawn has also developed, produced and directed ‘10by10’, a series of 10 short film dramas for the digital arts platform The Space (ACE/BBC).
Eclipse Theatre Company is the leading Black-led national touring company. The Company began in 2003 as an Arts Council England initiative to address the absence of Black Theatre on the regional and middle-scale touring network and is led by Artistic Director Dawn Walton. With an impressive track record of drawing new audiences, Eclipse continue to expand on their bespoke audience development programme to ensure that new and existing audiences are engaged with. Eclipse aim to use the Black British experience to create new work to enrich the cannon of British Theatre through national tours. By engaging and developing new audiences, and raising the profile of Black theatre makers, Eclipse deliver diverse programming in regional theatres. Previous tours include The Hounding of David Oluwale (2009), SUS (2010), One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show (2011 + 2013) and Sizwe Banzi is Dead (2014).
In 2014, Eclipse launched the award-winning Revolution Mix, a three year equality initiative to create permanent change in British Theatre supported by the Arts Council. Working with 16 writers, 11 regional theatres and a canvas of 500+ years of Black and Asian British history, Revolution Mix will develop and produce theatre, film and radio – culminating in the largest ever delivery of new Black work.
@eclipsetcl | #raisintour | www.eclipsetheatre.org.uk
Suitable for ages 12+
Directed by Dawn Walton Written by Lorraine Hansberry
Sound by Adrienne Quartly Designed by Amanda Stoodley
Lighting Design by Aideen Malone
Llewella Gideon, Ashley Zhangazha, Mike Burnside
28 Jan – 13 Feb Sheffield Theatres
55 Norfolk St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 1DA
28th Jan – 13th Feb 7.45pm, matinees 4th, 6th , 11th & 13th Feb 2.15pm
www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/ | 0114 249 6000
17 Feb – 20 Feb New Wolsey Theatre
Civic Drive, Ipswich, IP1 2AS
17th – 20th Feb 7.45pm, matinees 18th & 20th Feb 2.30pm
www.wolseytheatre.co.uk/ | 01473 295900
23 – 27 Feb Nuffield Theatre
University Road, Southampton, Hampshire, SO17 1TR
23rd – 27th Feb 7.30pm, matinees 25th & 27th Feb 2.30pm www.nuffieldtheatre.co.uk/ | 023 8067 1771
2 Mar – 5 Mar Liverpool Playhouse
Williamson Square, Liverpool L1 1EL
2nd – 5th March 7.30pm, except Thurs 5.30pm, Sat matinee 2pm (Tickets on sale soon)
www.everymanplayhouse.com | 0151 709 4776
8 Mar – 12 Mar Watford Palace Theatre
20 Clarendon Rd, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 1JS
8th – 12th March 7.30pm, matinee 12th March 2.30pm
www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk/ | 01923 225671
16 – 19 Mar The Albany Douglas Way, Deptford, London, SE8 4AG
16th-19th March, 7.30pm, matinee 19th 2.30pm
www.thealbany.org.uk | 020 8692 4446
22 – 26 Mar Belgrade Theatre
Belgrade Square, Coventry, CV1 1GS
22nd – 26th March 7.30pm, matinees 23rd & 26th 2.15pm (No performance on 25th)
www.belgrade.co.uk | 0247 6553055