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February 26, 2008

A Raisin in the Sun


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-- Langston Hughes, "Dream Deferred"

Last night a welcome breeze blew through the daily mire known as prime-time television. Were you able to view ABC's premiere movie broadcast of the famous Broadway play, A Raisin in the Sun? I'm certainly glad I did. It's been a while since I've watched such a wholesome movie that didn't carry a Hallmark label.

The movie was based on the 1959 play by Lorraine Hansberry, the first black woman to ever have a play appear on Broadway. Although the play/movie is primarily about life as an African-American residing in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood, the story presents a plethora of valuable messages on the sanctity of life, belief in God, and the importance of rightly managing our hearts and dreams.

Last night's debut opened with the first two lines of Langston Hughes' famous poem, "Dream Deferred." My mind immediately traveled to a similar well-known verse in Proverbs (13:12):

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life

But A Raisin in the Sun was more than a simple drama on dreams deferred. It cut right to the core in questioning what truly is and should be the motivation behind our dreams. And as a Christian delving even deeper in the message of the story, I found myself questioning where my innocent dreams had become deadly idols in my own life.

There are so many valuable insights and messages that could be collected from the show, but I haven't the time to discuss further my thoughts. But I'd love to know, what were some of yours?

(Image © ABC)

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Gina Dalfonzo

It was heartbreaking -- but not exactly in the way I expected.

I had known the play only by reputation, and I mistakenly thought it ended on a sad note. I didn't know that the sad note (carefully avoiding spoilers here) came before a happier note. So that was appreciated.

But there were so many little heartbreaking things scattered throughout, like Mrs. Younger being given the wormy apples, or the guy from the homeowner's committee coming by to try to talk the family out of moving into the white neighborhood. (Uncle Jesse from "Full House," how could you??) I almost couldn't watch the scene, I was cringing so hard.

In researching Hansberry and her play afterward, I found this from her book "To be Young, Gifted, and Black" (courtesy of Wikipedia):

"25 years ago, [my father] spent a small personal fortune, his considerable talents, and many years of his life fighting, in association with NAACP attorneys, Chicago’s ‘restrictive covenants’ in one of this nation's ugliest ghettos. That fight also required our family to occupy disputed property in a hellishly hostile ‘white neighborhood’ in which literally howling mobs surrounded our house… My memories of this ‘correct’ way of fighting white supremacy in America include being spat at, cursed and pummeled in the daily trek to and from school. And I also remember my desperate and courageous mother, patrolling our household all night with a loaded German [L]uger [pistol], doggedly guarding her four children, while my father fought the respectable part of the battle in the Washington court."

Which is a whole other level of heartbreaking.

Finally, one other thought is that Audra McDonald is amazing (I knew she could sing, but I didn't know what a great actress she is), and it would have been nice if she could have had a better foil for her amazingness than P. Diddy. Her scene in the abortionist's back room screams Emmy Award. (That's me being shallow. Now to be profound: Yes, it did say something very powerful, and very much appreciated, about the sanctity of life.)


I didn't get to see it, but wanted to--and will catch it when I can. But re: Sean Combs (P. Diddy), he did executive produce the ABC production and had played the same part on the stage previously, after consulting with both Poitier and Ozzie Davis. So, despite his other involvements that may not garner admiration, he should be admired for this. He said watching an almost-finished version still brought tears, even though he's in it too.

One reviewer:

"... When Combs began his stage career at the top with this certifiable classic, it could have turned out to be a stunt, pure hubris, a massive humiliation or just a really good deed. Instead, he surrounded himself with the top of the acting food chain and, according to [Audra] McDonald, even had a replica of the set built in his home so he could rehearse after hours.

"Combs proved then he could play someone besides his own formidable self. On camera, he projects more detail than he did onstage. He doesn't have the most expressive face but, up close, we can watch the different shades of yearning in the eyes behind the confidence of Walter Lee, the 34-year-old chauffeur who lives with his wife (McDonald), their young son (Justin Martin) and his grown sister ( Sanaa Lathan) in his mother's flat with the shared bathroom. ..."


More acclaim for Combs's Broadway production of "Raisin in the Sun":

Gina Dalfonzo

Oh, he wasn't bad, but he just wasn't in the same league as the other three (theatrically experienced) stars. On a Broadway message board that I frequent, one poster was thanking his lucky stars that he happened to attend the play one night when Combs was out and his understudy had to go on. :-) I don't mean to be a theater snob, and it's certainly not a bad thing that Combs was interested in doing a classic and was able to help get new audiences interested in it, but still, there was a difference and it showed.


This was very interesting to see this group of actors and actress perform and they were not bad. I do remember the orginal but no one should compare the two. This update version continues to make you realize that you must work hard for the things we want and not expect a handout or something that doesn't belong to you. We must remember to maintain your pride that was given to you by your parents, grandparents, etc. Standing on your own regardless of the ups and downs that we may come our way. We must continue to believe. I do love the old movies with all of the greats but I am proud to see that someone cared enough to bring them back to us in a different light.

Kingdom Empowerment Zone

I know this movie would be special. My husband and I had our children watch the movie. My son 11, is taking a stock market class at school. He is really enjoying the course but I wanted so much for him to understand that life is not all about money. The movie helped to bring that point home for him and give him some balance. For my children it was a witnessing tool to further encourage Christian values. It also addressed what happens when young adults study the worlds system in college. My prayer is that non Christians were able to have better insight of Christianity and Gods' love portrayed through Mrs. Younger.

Mike Belgrove

As explained by Juan Perez over on Highbrid Nation, Raisin in the Sun is doing big things. It is a made for television movie that they are promoting with a major release budget. For those, like myself, who missed it the first time around you can now see Diddy giving and Oscar worthy performance...well not really, lol.

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