Gutenberg! The Musical! • Assassins • The Mountaintop • Blues in the Night • The Diary of Anne Frank • A Christmas Carol • Sense and Sensibility
Mind Over Milwaukee • How The World Began • Rep Lab • Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash • Clybourne Park • A Raisin In the Sun • One Night With Janis Joplin
– The Washington Post
By Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Ron OJ Parson
March 12 – April 14
Associate Producers: James and Mary Braza • Judy Hansen
Connie and John Kordsmeier • Jacqueline Herd-Barber and Michael Barber
One of the most powerful and beloved American plays ever written, A Raisin In the Sun tells the story of the Younger family’s struggle for dignity and a better life—and the backlash that erupts when they try to move beyond their oppressive Chicago tenement home. Set just before the dawn of the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements, A Raisin In the Sun demonstrates how a single family’s dreams can change the world. Don’t miss the play that the New York Times said “changed American theatre forever.”
A Raisin In the Sun is one of the greatest and most important American plays ever written— and even though that writing was over 50 years ago, it still contains great resonance today. It’s one of those theatrical giants that everyone needs to see at some point, and takes you on a wonderful journey that will leave you feeling a multitude of emotions as you root for the Younger family to achieve their dream of a better life.
» 1959 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play
» 1960 Tony Nomination for Best Play
» Learn more about A Raisin in the Sun
from Artistic Director Mark Clements
Ron OJ Parson, Director
Jack Magaw, Scenic Designer
Janice Pytel, Costume Designer
Heather Gilbert, Lighting Designer
Joshua Horvath, Sound Designer
Sandy Ernst, Casting Director
Jill Walmsley Zager, Dialect Coach
Sarah Hoffmann*, Stage Manager
Briana J. Fahey*, Assistant Stage Manager
Laura F. Wendt*, Assistant Stage Manager
Jason Simpson, Stage Management Apprentice
Maggie Ellsworth, Assistant Director
Melissa Nyari Vartanian, Production Manager
Craig Gottschalk, Lighting & Sound Director
Tyler Smith, Technical Director
James Guy, Properties Director
Jim Medved, Charge Scenic Artist
Holly Payne, Costume Director
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Cristophé Abiel, (Joseph Asagai) – Christophé Abiel is delighted to be making his Rep debut with A Raisin in the Sun. He has worked with some of the most important theaters in the country, including four Tony Award-winning theaters: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Public Theater. He has also worked with LAByrinth Theater Company under Stephen Adly Guirgis and others. In addition, Christophé is a writer and a conductor. He is working on a multi-volume interdisciplinary series entitled Beethoven is Hip Hop. He is an alumnus of The Juilliard School. He dedicates his performance to Jadia and Joaquina. Thanks be to God! -Top-
Lamar Jefferson, (Moving Man) – Lamar is from Lancaster, TX, and is honored to be a member of the 2012/13 Acting Intern Ensemble! He is receiving his BFA in performance from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. Some of his favorite credits include: Rabbit Hole, Love/Sick, Schoolhouse Rock Live! , Defacing Michael Jackson, Bright Ideas and The Breasts of Tiresias. Lamar’s favorite hobbies include eating, reading, laughing and people watching. He would like to than his family, friends and everyone else that has impacted his life for making him the person he is today. Words cannot express how happy Lamar is to be a part of The Rep family! -Top-
Chiké Johnson, (Walter Lee Younger) – Chiké Johnson most recently appeared in Manhattan Theatre Club’s Wit on Broadway. Some of his other credits include Lost in the Stars in New York City Center Encores!, Sizwe Banzi is Dead at Court Theatre and the original cast of Goodman Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club’s coproduction of Ruined. Some of his Chicago credits include The Crucible, The Unmentionables and Huck Finn at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Regional credits include a revival of The Unmentionables at Yale Repertory Theatre; Lincoln inTopdog/Underdog at Renaissance Theaterworks; Duke of Cornwall in King Lear at Milwaukee Repertory Theater; Cephus Miles in Home at In Tandem Theatre; Willie in Master Harold . . . and the Boys at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Martin Luther King, Jr. in Smoldering Fires at First Stage Children’s Theater. Some of Mr. Johnson’s film credits include Friends with Benefits, Sleepwalk with Me and The Machinist, and his television credits include Law & Order, Girls, Veep and Prison Break. -Top-
Mildred Marie Langford, (Beneatha Younger) – Mildred Marie Langford is ecstatic to be making her Milwaukee Rep debut in A Raisin in the Sun. Her Chicago credits include Failure: A Love Story (Victory Gardens Theater); Freshly Fallen Snow (Chicago Dramatists); My Kind of Town and In Darfur (TimeLine Theatre Company, where she also serves as a company member); An Actor Prepares (University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts); 13 Clocks (Lifeline Theatre); Venus, The Twins Would Like to Say and The Crucible (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Sinbad: The Untold Tale, The Ghost of Treasure Island and The Blue House (Adventure Stage Chicago); A Civil War Christmas (Northlight Theatre); War with the Newts and The Overwhelming (Next Theatre Company) and 12 Ophelias (Trap Door Theatre). Mildred is a graduate of George Mason University and The School at Steppenwolf. “Thank you God for continued blessings. Thank you Ron and Sandy for the opportunity. And thank you to friends and family for your unwavering support. Let your light shine!” www.mildredmarielangford.com. -Top-
Gavin Lawrence, (George Murchison) – Mr. Lawrence is proud to make his Rep debut. He has performed at Arena Stage, Guthrie Theater, CenterStage, Denver Center Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, Kennedy Center and 59E59 Theatres. Awards include the AUDELCO for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Pure Confidence Off-Broadway; the Howard University Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award and the Lorraine Hansberry Award for his play, Cut Flowers, now in film pre-production. Other films include Joe Somebody, Justice and The Promise. He is the proud father of two amazing teenagers! -Top-
Greta Oglesby, (Lena Younger) – Greta is glad to be back at Milwaukee Rep, where she was last seen as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Oregon Shakespeare Festival credits include: Aunt Ester in Gem of the Ocean, Antonia in The Tempest, Paulina in The Winter’s Tale, Antonia in the The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Gertrude in Hamlet. Regional theater credits include: Madam C.J. Walker in Dreams of Sarah Breedlove (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); Caroline in Caroline or Change, Mother Shaw in Crowns, Tiresias in The Burial At Thebes and Elizabeth Keckley in Appomattox (Guthrie Theater); Bernice in The Piano Lesson; Mae and Mother in Dinah Was and Bertha in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Penumbra Theatre Company); Aunt Ester in Gem of the Ocean and Sis Boxer in The Amen Corner (Goodman Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company). New York credits include: American Songbook Series at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and understudy for Lena in A Raisin in the Sun (Royale Theatre). Film/television: Early Edition, Unsolved Mysteries, Into Temptation, Conversations with God, Passing Minds, Time Served, Four Way Stop, The Fugitive and My Life. Awards: 2009 McKnight Theatre Artist Fellowship, Joseph Jefferson Award: Best Actress in a Play and Black Theatre Alliance Award: Best Actress in a Musical. Education: B.S., Rust College. -Top-
Tyrone Phillips, (Moving Man) – Tyrone Phillips is a native of Skokie, IL and he is pleased to be a part of the Artistic Intern Ensemble at The Rep. This past season he has been in the ensemble of Assassins and A Christmas Carol. Understudy roles this season include The Mountaintop (MLK), A Christmas Carol (Bob Crachit), Clybourne Park (Kevin/Albert) and he is ending the season with A Raisin in the Sun (Walter Lee). This past spring Tyrone received his BFA in acting from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Upon graduating, Tyrone was also accepted into notable programs including The School at Steppenwolf and The Actors Theatre of Louisville. He has also studied at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, and is a founding member and Artistic Director of Definition Theatre Company, which is based in Chicago. -Top-
James Pickering, (Karl Lindner) – A Raisin in the Sun marks the closing of James’s 39th season as an actor for Milwaukee Repertory Theater. He appeared earlier this season as Victor Kraler in The Diary of Anne Frank and last season as Duke in Othello and The Judge in To Kill a Mockingbird. Notable roles for Milwaukee Repertory Theater in recent years include Dave Moss in Glengarry Glen Ross, Niels Bohr in Copenhagen, Charlie in Edward Albee’s Seascape and blind Richard Harkin in The Seafarer. He has directed two hit comedies for the Rep: Arsenic and Old Lace in the Quadracci Powerhouse and a revival of The Nerd in the Stiemke Studio. James is proud to be a Milwaukee Rep Associate Artist. He is a recipient of Milwaukee’s Outstanding Artist award and an Alumni Achievement award from Penn State University. He is a former Trustee of the Ten Chimneys Foundation, and in addition to his work in theater, he is an active voice talent, having helped win an Emmy as Narrator of The Making of Milwaukee. -Top-
Ericka Ratcliff, (Ruth Younger) – Ericka Ratcliff makes her Milwaukee Rep debut with A Raisin in the Sun. Previous credits include: Bulrusher, Talented Tenth, African Company Presents Richard III, 365 Days/365 Plays, StickFly and The Colored Museum, (Congo Square Theatre Company); Funk It Up About Nothing (Australia and London Tour); Short Shakespeare! , The Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Black Diamond: The Year the Locusts Have Eaten, Around the World in 80 Days and Peter Pan-A Play (Lookingglass Theatre Company); The Nutcracker (House Theatre of Chicago); Court Martial at Fort Devens (Victory Gardens Theater); Sketchbook (Collaboraction); Ruined (Mixed Blood) and Seven Guitars (Pittsburgh Playwrights). She is an ensemble member with Congo Square Theatre Company and graduate of The Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University. Much love and respect to the cast and crew, OJ and Lorraine! -Top-
Braylen Stevens, (Travis Younger) – Braylen Stevens is thrilled to make his debut with Milwaukee Rep, and is really excited to play the role of Travis. Braylen loves to entertain others with singing, acting and dancing which led him to his strong interest in the performing arts. After learning more about the arts, Braylen participated in plays with CAPITA Productions and in many church productions. Braylen was last seen onstage in First Stage’s production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He would like to thank Milwaukee Rep for this wonderful opportunity, and dedicate this performance to God, family and friends! -Top-
Trequon Tate, (Bobo) – Trequon Tate is extremely excited and honored to be joining the 2012/13 Artistic Intern Ensemble at The Rep! A native of Starkville, MS, he received his BFA in Acting from the University of Southern Mississippi. His Rep credits include: Gutenberg! The Musical! (Doug u/s); Assassins (Proprietor u/s, Ensemble); Blues in the Night (The Man u/s) and A Christmas Carol (Mr.Fezzwig u/s, Philpot u/s). Other credits include: Smokey Joe’s Cafe, The Grapes of Wrath, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Ragtime and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The 13-hour journey from Mississippi to Wisconsin has been a rewarding one. “I am so blessed to be a part of such a talented cast. I would like to thank my family, especially my mother, for their unwavering love and support.” -Top-
Ron OJ Parson, (Director) – Ron OJ Parson is a native of Buffalo, NY, and a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Professional Theatre Program. He is the co-founder and former Artistic Director of Onyx Theatre of Chicago. Ron currently resides in Chicago and is a Resident Theatre Artist at Chicago’s Court Theatre at the University of Chicago. Other Chicago theaters Ron has worked with include: the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater, Northlight Theatre Company, Chicago Theatre Company, Black Ensemble Theatre, Congo Square, ETA, MPAACT, Urban Theatre Company, Writers’ Theatre, Eclipse Theatre, Chicago Dramatists and various arts in education programs. Regionally, Ron has worked throughout the United States and Canada. Most recently Ron directed the highly-acclaimed production of August Wilson’s Jitney at South Coast Repertory and Pasadena Playhouse. Other regional theaters include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Geva Theatre, Buffalo’s Studio Arena Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Wilshire Theatre, Mechanic Theatre, Center Stage, Studio Theatre, Portland Stage Company in Maine, Signature Theatre in New York, St. Louis Black Rep, Madison Repertory Theatre and Virginia Stage Company, to name a few. Ron recently directed the world premiere of Palmer Park at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Ron would like to dedicate this production to Hal Scott and Philip Rose for their influences to his spiritual connection to this play. www.ronojparson.com. -Top-
Jack Magaw, (Scenic Designer) – Jack Magaw returns to Milwaukee Rep where he previously designed Frozen. Other Chicago and regional theater design credits include: I Just Stopped By to See The Man (Alliance Theatre); Circle Mirror Transformation (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); Pippin (Kansas City Repertory Theatre); Superior Donuts (Geva Theatre); Gee’s Bend (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre Company); Murder on the Nile and Opus (Peninsula Players Theatre); The Letters (Writers’ Theatre) and Jitney (Court Theatre). His seven Joseph Jefferson Award nominations include his designs for The Caretaker and Bus Stop (Writers’ Theatre) and In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) (Victory Gardens Theater). Upcoming projects include Clybourne Park and Beneatha’s Place (CenterStage). Jack lives in Evanston, IL with his wife, director Kimberly Senior, and teaches design at The Theatre School at DePaul University. www.jackmagaw.com. -Top-
Janice Pytel, (Costume Designer) – Janice Pytel is making her Milwaukee Rep debut. Previous collaborations with Ron OJ Parson include: The Caretaker (Writers’ Theatre); Fences (Court Theatre) and Topdog Underdog (Madison Repertory Theatre). Recent design credits: Clybourne Park (Alley Theatre); Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West (Timeline Theatre); Completeness (Theater Wit); Crooked (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); Broke (Alliance Theatre); Spunk (Court Theatre); Middletown and The Seafarer (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); A Streetcar Named Desire (Williamstown Theatre Festival); The Detective’s Wife, A Streetcar Named Desire and Picnic (Writers’ Theatre); Crime and Punishment (Centerstage) and The Long Red Road (Goodman Theatre). Broadway: 33 Variations and I Am My Own Wife. www.janicepytel.com. -Top-
Heather Gilbert, (Lighting Designer) – Heather Gilbert is a Chicago-based lighting designer. This is her first show at Milwaukee Rep. Previous shows with Ron OJ Parson include Home (Court Theatre) and The Old Settler and The Caretaker (Writers’ Theatre). Other recent Chicago designs include: Rent (American Theatre Company/ About Face Theatre), The Better Half (Lucky Plush Productions at the Museum of Contemporary Art) and Immediate Family with Martian Productions. Other Chicago theaters include: Writers’ Theatre, Next Theatre, Court Theatre, The Hypocrites, About Face Theatre, Strawdog Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Children’s Theatre, American Blues Theatre and Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, among others. Regional: Our Town (Broad Stage – L.A., Huntington Theatre – Boston), A Streetcar Named Desire (Williamstown Theatre Festival) and The Farnsworth Invention (Alley Theatre). Off-Broadway: Our Town (Barrow Street Theatre). Heather was a 1999/2001 recipient of the NEA/TCG Development Program Award. She serves as the Head of Lighting Design at Columbia College, and received her MFA from The Theatre School at DePaul. -Top-
Joshua Horvath, (Sound Designer) – Joshua Horvath’s Milwaukee Rep credits include: The Story. Off- Broadway: Clay (Lincoln Center). Regional credits: Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare, Court Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Centerstage, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Madison Repertory Theatre, Great River ShakespeareFestival, Center Theatre Group and California Shakespeare Theater. Awards: Four Joseph Jefferson Awards, an L.A. Ovation Award. Affiliations: Lecturer in sound design for theater and film at Northwestern University, an Artistic Associate of Lookingglass Theatre Company, an artistic collaborator with Goodman Theatre, co-owner of Aria Music Designs, LLC. Upcoming and current shows: Tartuffe (Court Theatre), Sweet Charity (Writers’ Theatre) and Jungle Book (Goodman Theatre). www.horvathsound.com. -Top-
Sandy Ernst, (Casting Director/ Associate Artistic Director) – Sandy made her first casting trip to New York City with American Players Theatre founders Randall Duk Kim and Annie Occhiogrosso over 30 years ago, and continued with APT as both a member of the directing staff and as the Production Stage Manager for the next 15 years. She has served as Milwaukee Rep’s Casting Director for over a decade, seeing up to a thousand auditions each season. She is also the Artistic Intern Company Director, teaches professional audition technique and auditions emerging artists for The Rep’s Acting Internship in colleges and universities throughout the country. Sandy was Casting Director for the independent feature films Baraboo and Waterwalk. -Top-
Jill Walmsley Zager, (Dialect Coach) – Jill is very happy to be back at The Rep for the 2012/13 Season. Other Milwaukee Rep credits include: Clybourne Park, Sense and Sensibility, A Christmas Carol, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Mountaintop, Assassins, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Christmas Carol, Lombardi, Yellowman, Ten Chimneys, Cabaret, My Name Is Asher Lev, Laurel and Hardy and The 39 Steps. Jill has recently returned to Milwaukee from three years as the Co-Head of Voice and Dialects and the Company Coach at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Regionally, she has worked at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Drury Lane Water Tower, Apple Tree Theatre, DruryLane Oakbrook Terrace, Utah Shakespeare Festival and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Jill earned herMaster’s Degrees at CSSD (London) and Northwestern. She is married to James Zager, the Head of the Theatre Program at Carroll University. -Top-
Lorraine Hansberry (Playwright) was born in Chicago on May 19, 1930, the last of four children born to the independent, politically active, Republican, and well-to-do Carl and Nannie Perry Hansberry. Hospitals were required at that time to list the racial identities of newborns; however, upon receiving their daughter's birth certificate, Hansberry's parents crossed out the word "Negro" and wrote "Black," an act of minor significance but certainly a testament to the Afrocentric ideology that the elder Hansberrys bequeathed to their children.
Although 1930 is the year that most Americans associate with the Great Depression, Hansberry's family remained economically solvent through this period. By 1930s standards, the Hansberrys were certainly upper middle class, but by the standards of most Chicago blacks, many of whom lived in abject poverty at this time, they would have been considered "rich."
Hansberry was never comfortable with her "rich girl" status, identifying instead with the "children of the poor." Admiring the feistiness exhibited by these children who were so often left alone, Hansberry often imitated their maturity and independence. They wore housekeys around their necks, symbols of their "latchkey children" status, so Hansberry decided to wear keys around her neck — any keys that she might find, including skate keys — so that she too might be thought of as one of them.
Hansberry never lived in a "Younger" household, although she closely observed such households throughout her childhood. The characters in Raisin do not know the middle-class comforts of the Hansberry family; in her plays, Hansberry focuses on the class of black people whom she cared most about, even though her knowledge of these people was, at best, peripheral.
Hansberry's father, Carl, not only established one of the first black savings banks in Chicago, but he was also a successful real estate businessman. Credited with innovating the concept of the "kitchenette," the studio apartment, he was able to maximize all available space, converting a large area into several smaller areas. Always politically active, Carl challenged a Supreme Court decision against integration and won his right to purchase a house in an exclusive Chicago neighborhood where no other blacks lived.
Shortly afterward, Hansberry herself was nearly killed by a brick hurled through a window by angry whites. Hansberry remembers her mother's "standing guard" many times with a loaded gun in order to protect her family from the violence of racism. Such traumatic memories were probably a part of the reason that Hansberry incorporated into her first play the theme of a black family's courageous decision to move into a hostile and new environment.
When Hansberry enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, she had every intention of remaining there for the four years necessary for graduation. However, after two years, her growing interest in the arts took her other places for brief periods. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago, Roosevelt College, the New School of Social Research in New York, and studied art in Guadalajara, Mexico. In New York, she worked on the staff of Paul Robeson's Freedom magazine, hung around the theater, read plays, and honed her craft. Several critics have noted that Hansberry's artwork, her drawings and sketches, is almost as noteworthy as her writing.
Her father's death at the age of fifty-one touched Hansberry deeply; she often said that it was perhaps her father's constant baffle with the forces of racism that hastened his early death. Interestingly, the cause and effect of much of the action in Raisin evolves as a consequence of the death of Big Walter, a character whom the audience never sees, although much of the dialogue contains references to him.
Hansberry's own untimely death at the age of thirty-four on January 12, 1965, left a void in American theater and in the circle of black writers. Jean Carey Bond, in an article in Freedomways magazine, says of Hansberry: "[Her] brief sojourn was, in one of its dimensions, a study in pure style. Born into material comfort, yet baptized in social responsibility; intensely individual in her attitudes and behavior, yet sensitive to the wills and aspirations of a whole people; a lover of life, yet stalked by death — she deliberately fashioned out of these elements an articulate existence of artistic and political commitment, seasoned with that missionary devotion which often intensifies the labors of the mortally ill."
Hansberry left behind three unfinished plays and an unfinished semi-autobiographical novel.
Learn more about the background of the show and/or the themes explored in this production.
Each of our shows offers opportunities for our audience to engage in conversations and discussion with our staff, artists and guest speakers. Please join us!
Rep in Depth | Pre-Show
45 minutes prior to curtain | Quadracci Powerhouse Theater
Get an insider’s look at the production from cast member Gavin Lawrence with a discussion that begins 45 minutes prior to every performance of A Raisin in the Sun.
TalkBacks | Post-Show
Thursday, March 21, 28, April 4 and 11 | Quadracci Powerhouse Theater
Take part in a lively post-play discussion with members of the cast and special guests.
‘Round Six Happy Hour
Thursday, Mar. 14 • 6pm | Quadracci Powerhouse Theater Lobby
Join us for a pre-show happy hour featuring live music from Pete and the Hot Mess and complimentary appetizers and beer from Rock Bottom. ‘Round 6 is free with your ticket.
Sponsored in part by:
Wednesday, May 3 • 1:30pm | Salon A at the InterContinental Hotel
Join us for lunch and a discussion with a member of The Rep staff who will discuss all the elements you will see in A Raisin In The Sun. Cost is $15 per person. Please RSVP by Monday, March 25 to Jennifer Bloomer at 414-291-4790 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start at 15% off
Approx. 2 hrs. and 55 min
Tuesday - Thursday: 7:30pm
Sunday Evening: 7:00pm
Fri/Sat Evening: 8pm
Saturday Matinee: 4pm
Sunday Matinee: 2pm
Wednesday Matinee: 1:30pm
*Once per run otherwise 7:30pm
14 years and older
Contains some adult language
Tues. March 19, 6:30pm
Thurs. April 4, 7:30pm
Sun. April 7, 2pm