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Bert LaBonté and Zahra Newman in A Raisin in the Sun. Photo: Rene Vaile and Justin Ridler Download images

9 June 2022

Acclaimed playwright and director Wesley Enoch (Appropriate) 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.”

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,” Enoch 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.”

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.

A Raisin in the Sun plays at STC’s Wharf 1 Theatre from 27 August – 15 October.


Media Enquiries:
Helene Fox, PR Manager
(02) 9250 1705
Emily Ritchie, Publicist (02) 9250 1703

Notes to Editors

A Raisin in the Sun
Written by Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Wesley Enoch

Wharf 1 Theatre

Previews 27 – 31 August
Opening Night 1 September
Season until 15 October

Designer Mel Page
Lighting Designer Verity Hampson
Composer & Sound Designer Brendon Boney
Production Dramaturg Zindzi Okenyo

With Nancy Denis, Bert LaBonté, Angela Mahlatjie, Zahra Newman, Gaius Nolan, Gayle Samuels, Leinad Walker, Jacob Warner, Adolphus Waylee, Ibrahima Yade

Box Office: (02) 9250 1777
Show information and book online:
About STC Wharf Theatre:

A Raisin in the Sun synopsis
A Raisin in the Sun is an iconic work of American theatre, a powerful portrait of one Black family’s struggle to hold onto hope in a society intent on keeping them down, and an unmissable night of theatre. Premiering in 1959, when Lorraine Hansberry was just 29 years old, the play was the first by an African American woman to be shown on Broadway and it continues to challenge and move audiences generations later. Living in a segregated neighbourhood of Chicago in the 1950s, the five members of the Younger family are all looking for ways to improve their lot: some through activism, some through fortune and some through simple feats of self-determination. The arrival of a long-awaited life insurance cheque gives the close-knit family a chance to consider the possibility of a better life. But the distance between dreams and reality proves further than any of them anticipated.

About Lorraine Hansberry
Lorraine Hansberry (19 May 1930 – 12 January 1965) was a playwright, essayist and civil rights activist. She is best known for writing A Raisin in the Sun, the first play by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway. The play has had numerous revival productions, was turned into a Tony Award-winning musical and was also made into a film starring Sidney Poitier in 1961. Hansberry was the first Black playwright and youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle Award. Her words were the inspiration for Nina Simone's song "To Be Young Gifted and Black". She died from pancreatic cancer at age 34. In 2017, she was inducted into the United States' Women's Hall of Fame. In 2022, the Lilly Awards Foundation launched the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative to recognise her contribution as an artist, writer and activist. It includes the tour of a sculpture which will be unveiled at Times Square and a scholarship for female and/or non-binary aspiring writers of colour.

Australia Council for the Arts       NSW Government