‘A Raisin in the Sun’ offers Insight into Race, then and now

Kaden Amari Anderson, left, and Cooki Winborn in Bay Street Theater's production of "A Raisin in the Sun." Photo by Michael Heller.

Bay Street Theater is revisiting Chicago circa 1959 in its current production of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play “A Raisin in the Sun,” which tells the story of the Youngers, an African-American family whose members hope to improve the quality of their lives after an unexpected financial windfall.

The play is presented as part of Bay Street Theater’s flagship educational program “Literature Live!” which offers professional theatrical performances based on classic American literature used in school curricula. Now in its 11th year, this BOCES-approved program will bring students from across Long Island to Sag Harbor to see “A Raisin in the Sun” which premiered on Broadway 60 years ago.

Directed by Lydia Fort, the cast includes Chauncy Thomas as Walter Lee Younger; Cooki Winborn  as Lena Younger; Erin Margaret Pettigrew as Ruth Younger; Cassia Thompson as Beneatha Younger; Jonathan Farrington as Joseph Asagai; Michael Chenevert as George Murchison; Justin Jorrell as Bobo; Joe Pallister as Karl Lindner, and Kaden Amari Anderson as Travis Younger.

Fort has directed at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Diversionary Theatre, Perseverance Theatre, Women’s Project Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem, and many other festivals. She received a B.A. from New York University and an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington. She is an Assistant Professor at Emory University where she teaches directing, acting, African-American theater, and eco-theatre.

“A Raisin in the Sun” runs through Sunday, December 1, at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. Shows are presented weekdays at 2 p.m. for school groups. Public performances are Thursday to Saturday, November 14 through 16, at 7 p.m. plus a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.; November 21 through 23 at 7 p.m. plus a Saturday 2 p.m. matinee; and Thanksgiving weekend on Friday, November 29, at 2 and 7 p.m., Saturday November 30 at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 1 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at baystreet.org or 631-725-9500.

In conjunction with the production, Bay Street Theater will host a free special hour-long panel discussion on Saturday, November 23, at 11 a.m. Titled “Race: Then and Now, There and Here” with local clergy and members of East End African American organizations. Audience members are encouraged to continue the discussion with panelists over lunch at Page restaurant in Sag Harbor (at their own cost), followed by the matinee performance of the play if they choose.