Wesley Enoch to direct American classic A Raisin in the Sun

STC-Bert-LaBonté-and-Zahra-Newman-in-A-Raisin-in-the-Sun-photo-by-Rene-Vaile-and-Justin-RidlerAcclaimed playwright and director Wesley Enoch will direct celebrated American classic – Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun – when it has its long-awaited Australian mainstage debut at Sydney Theatre Company this August.

A Raisin in the Sun made history in 1959 as the first play by an African American woman to be shown on Broadway and Hansberry – who was 29 at the time – became the youngest and first Black recipient to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.

Set in 1950s Chicago, this gripping and incredibly moving play follows the Younger family as they try their best to turn loss into legacy while rallying against injustice, discrimination and the cycles of poverty.

Zahra Newman (Julius Caesar) and Bert LaBonté (All My Sons) will lead an exceptional cast in this production that includes Nancy Denis (Blithe Spirit), as well as Angela Mahlatjie, Gaius Nolan, Gayle Samuels, Leinad Walker, Jacob Warner, Adolphus Waylee and Ibrahima Yade who are all making their STC debut.

Enoch will be flanked by an incredible creative team to bring this moving story of resilience to life, including Zindzi Okenyo (Grand Horizons) as dramaturg, STC Design Associate Brendon Boney (Wudjang: Not the Past) as composer, Mel Page (Saint Joan) as designer and Verity Hampson (City of Gold) as lighting designer.

Enoch says his production of the show will be a “love letter to Lorraine Hansberry and the period of time in which it was written. It’s about honouring this incredible classic work that’s never been shown professionally in Australia,” he said.

“Not only does this play have a lot to say, very clearly, about contemporary America, it also has a lot to say, by extrapolation, about Australia. This idea of the aspirational qualities of a group of people remains incredibly relevant.”

“If you see a story and you have an emotional reaction and response to it, you can use that to fuel shifts and changes. This is a beautiful moment in time that we’re revisiting, so that we can judge ourselves against it,” said Enoch.

Enoch said that directing A Raisin in the Sun after having directed Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate for STC in 2021 would be “a lovely bookend… Appropriate was a contemporary piece written by a Black writer with an all-white cast talking about ideas of race,” he said.

A Raisin in the Sun is a historical piece, again talking about race, and they are a natural bookend to the same concepts and ideas,” said Enoch.

A Raisin in the Sun was originally slated for STC’s 2021 Season with STC Resident Director Shari Sebbens at the helm however it was postponed a few weeks into rehearsals following the introduction of COVID restrictions in June 2021.

Sebbens is unable to direct the rescheduled production in 2022 due to an exciting new opportunity and she is working closely with Wesley to hand over the project. Shari will continue as a Resident Artist at STC and her projects for the 2023 Season will be announced in October.

Director: Wesley Enoch | Featuring: Nancy Denis, Bert LaBonté, Angela Mahlatjie, Zahra Newman, Gaius Nolan, Gayle Samuels, Leinad Walker, Jacob Warner, Adolphus Waylee, Ibrahima Yade | Designer: Mel Page | Lighting Designer: Verity Hampson | Composer & Sound Designer: Brendon Boney | Production Dramaturg: Zindzi Okenyo

A Raisin in the Sun
Wharf 1 Theatre – Sydney Theatre Company, Wharf 4/5, 15 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay (Sydney)
Season: 2 September – 15 October 2022 (preview: 27 – 31 August)
Information and Bookings: www.sydneytheatre.com.au

Image: Bert LaBonté and Zahra Newman to star in A Raisin in the Sun – photo by Rene Vaile and Justin Ridler