Broadway Preview: A Raisin In The Sun

By Kendra James

On Thursday night WNYC presented A Raisin In The Sun: Inside Look at The Greene Space in New York City. Joining moderator Elliot Forrest for an hour long discussion on the new Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s play were director Kenny Leon with cast members, Anika Noni Rose, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Stephen McKinley Henderson.

Our readers are encouraged to watch the video in full (it’s an hour long, but a good Friday afternoon lunch time distraction). The discussion and the subsequent Q&A has that rare perfect mix  of a great moderator, intelligent and thoughtful panellists, and an engaged audience that proceeded to ask insightful questions. Some of the discussion highlights included:

  • Kenny Leon has done A Raisin In The Sun several times in various productions, including the production with Sean Combs that premièred on Broadway ten years ago.  When planning for this production he wanted the audience to ask, “What does it mean to do this play ten years later?” The panel pointed out that African-American plays often lack reinventing for new generations, but that a show like Raisin should be affected by events like the election of a Black president and the two Stand Your Ground trials in Florida.
  • Also in that vein, Leon wanted this audience to see Travis (the Younger’s son) not just as a boy, but as the man that he’d become. It was important to him that people actively engage and think about what his life would be like in America ten years from the moments presented on stage.
  • Stephen McKinley Henderson gave a cold reading of Langston Hughes’ poem Harlem which provided Raisin its name.
  • Broadway always seems a bit starved for original content when the new season rolls around. As mentioned this is the second revival of Raisin in 10 years, and it joins shows like Aladdin, Rocky, The Bridges of Madison CountyCabaretLes Miserables, and many other revivals or adaptations coming this spring and fall.  So it was appreciated when a blogger from Arts In Color got up to ask if the cast had any favourite young POC playwrights producing original material fit for the stage. Answers included Danai Gurira, Robert O’Hara, Dominique Morisseau, Marcus Gardley, Lydia Diamond, and Katori Hall.

A Raisin In The Sun also stars Denzel Washington (Walter Lee Younger) and Sophie Okonedo (Ruth Younger) and begins previews at the Barrymore Theatre (home of the original production in 1959) on March 8. Thanks to WNYC for having us, and to Anika Noni Rose for not laughing when I told her about the time I auditioned to be Tiana for Disney On Ice.

Scandal 311a

Open Thread: Scandal 3.11, ‘Ride, Sally, Ride’

By Arturo R. García

Our own Kendra James will have a proper review Monday morning, but we figured we’d get the ball rolling and gather your first thoughts on the Scandal spring premiere. SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT

Continue reading


Eight Episodes, 800 (or so) Questions: The Scandal Spring Season Preview

By Arturo R. García

Welcome back, Scandalizens, as we embark on what Shonda Rhimes and company are billing as the all-killer(s), no-filler portion of the season: eight episodes, all in a row, telling what promises to be a three-sided war within the Pope family, with another conflict brewing within Fitz’s administration, despite Cyrus’ best efforts to (nearly literally) hide the bodies.

So before mounting up tonight, let’s play catch-up under the cut. SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON.
Continue reading


[Originally posted on October 28, 2009]

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

A writer friend of mine working on a novel about his Indian experience has lamented to me about a particular response he keeps getting to his work in progress. His non-Asian peers tell him that he can’t write his particular story, because it’s already been told by say, Rohinton Mistry, or Arundhati Roy.

I also get hopping mad when I hear about this. What about the 5 gazillion stories of middle class white family struggle that dominate libraries and schools across this country?

Centers of power who feel political pressure to include the Other in their ranks rarely make room for more than one Other. TV shows like 30 Rock and the Daily Show don’t have room for more than one or two black characters (and they are all men.) Once a publishing press has released one book by a Latin@, they won’t release another one – they’ve already done the Latin thing. And often this kind of dynamic sets up vicious competition between members of marginalised groups vying for the single position allotted to their entire demographic – and people who should be allies become opponents.

Because of all this, I love this talk by novelist Chimamanda Adichie. Adichie talks about the real consequences of only allowing one voice to represent thousands, and makes a very beautiful argument on how the single story impoverishes our lives.


Skating Through A Rink Of Frozen White Tears: An Olympics Recap

By Kendra James
Please excuse me while I take the same route as every other media outlet and enter into our Sochi ’14 discussion via ladies figure skating, ne Apparently The Only Winter Olympic Sport That Matters. Continue reading

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba

Quoted: Civil Rights Leader Chokwe Lumumba (1947-2014) on Jackson, Mississippi

I should say that people should take a note of Jackson, because we have suffered some of the worst kinds of abuses in history, but we’re about to make some advances and some strides in the development of human rights and the protection of human rights that I think have not been seen in other parts of the country. And I want to caution folks that we’ve got to be careful now when we talk about any one particular place in the United States.

All over, we’ve seen intense oppression. I’m from Detroit, initially, and we’ve seen a lot of oppression there, historically as well as currently. New York has certainly seen its share. Washington, D.C., has seen its share. So, we don’t want to be like people on different plantations arguing about which plantation is worse. What we have to do is to correct the whole problem, and we’re about correcting the problem here in Jackson. And we’re going to be inviting people to come here, and people want to come here, in order to participate in the struggle forward.

June 6, 2013.


The Anarchy of Gentrification & Art Resistance

By Guest Contributor Rama Musa, cross-posted from Global Griot

The city of Houston is buzzing with conversations about the social role of art in neighborhood revitalization.

On Dec. 3, 2013, the Texan-French Alliance for the Arts (TFAA) co-organized “Think Thank: Arts, Identity and Urban Revitalization” at the Rothko Chapel. On Jan. 24 – 25, Project Row Houses  organized “Social Practice, Social Justice,” a two-day symposium on art as an agent of social justice.

These discussions prompted John Guess Jr., CEO of the Houston Museum of African American Culture  (HMAAC), to ask, “[In the onslaught of gentrification], how do community-based arts organizations transform the behavioral change of the people, provide a space for transcendence, and offer scholarship for the spirit?” Houston’s Project Row Houses  and Rebuild Foundation  in Chicago are two nonprofits whose radical social art projects have benefited from, and served as the last frontier against, rapid gentrification in African American neighborhoods.
Continue reading


The Heroes We’d Like To See Most In Heroes: Reborn

By Arturo R. García

Just as we’re getting used to having a show about zombies around again, NBC went one step further and dug up a show that is a zombie.

Yes, Heroes is apparently returning from the grave, with original showrunner Tim Kring in tow, sometime next year. As sensible longtime readers might have bleached out of their brain, the series’ first iteration ended, mercifully, with a pre-Nashville Claire-Bear outing the metahuman population to the world after Team Benetrelli saved the world from a group of angry carnival workers. Which gives just a little more heft to this bit of spin from NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke:

Until we get closer to air in 2015, the show will be appropriately shrouded in secrecy, but we won’t rule out the possibility of some of the show’s original cast members popping back in.

Sure, on one level that can be interpreted as a polite way for Salke to say, “PLEEEEEEEASE HAYDEN COME BACK,” but if the show really is a continuation and not just a “reimagining,” it puts Heroes in a very interesting position.

The genre television renaissance it helped define is mostly floundering; sure, Arrow gets its fair share of good reviews, but Agents of SHIELD has struggled to gain its footing and the British cult favorite Misfits has concluded. With Smallville long gone, Supernatural nearing the end of its run, Doctor Who surviving on a spread-out schedule and the CW’s Gotham and Flash projects looking unsteady, Heroes can reasonably expect to attract fans hoping for a return to its Series One risk-taking prime.

But for Reborn to truly thrive will take not just new blood, but picking the right (affordable) old faces to bring back. And more than anything, it is going to require Kring to learn from some of his costliest mistakes in the first go-round.
Continue reading